Emily Hall

  • Phoebe Washburn, Nunderwater Nort Lab, 2011, mixed media. Installation view.

    Phoebe Washburn

    Phoebe Washburn’s Nunderwater Nort Lab, 2011, an installation that filled the main space at Zach Feuer, looks a good deal like a fort. The wide, cylindrical structure is ragged and slipshod, built from piled-up two-by-fours that appear to have been scavenged from other, previous incarnations. Holes, placed at regular intervals, offer glimpses of the walled-off interior, but those views are blinkered by cylindrical tunnels on the interior side. What can be seen within suggests the aesthetic of a hardware store or bodega: an assemblage of extension cords in bright colors, bits of colored paint,

  • Gillian Wearing, Secrets and Lies, 2009, still from a color video, 53 minutes 16 seconds.

    Gillian Wearing

    Long before Facebook, Gillian Wearing was pulling apart the conflicted, mediated relationship between our real selves and those we present to the world. Whether photographing strangers on the street holding signs that state what they’re thinking (“Signs that say what you want them to say and not Signs that say what someone else wants you to say,” 1992–93), or documenting herself dancing wildly in a public place (Dancing in Peckham, 1994), or filming adults as they lip-synch to recordings of children speaking (10–16, 1997), she mixes and matches the elements of identity—those elements that

  • Sarah Anne Johnson, Party Boat, 2011, photo-spotting ink, gouache, india ink, and acrylic ink on color photograph, 28 x 42".

    Sarah Anne Johnson

    The first photograph encountered in “Arctic Wonderland,” Sarah Anne Johnson’s fourth exhibition at Julie Saul Gallery, portrays a man dressed in heavy-duty outdoor gear, the kind meant to withstand extreme weather conditions, in the midst of what appears to be a leap of triumph or sheer glee. Behind him, a vast, frozen landscape stretches into the distance, while in his hands is a banner—clearly added by Johnson in the studio—that reads ARTIC CIRCLE, as though he were a sports fan cheering on a team. Similarly, in Cheerleading Pyramid, 2011, a group of people pose in the titular

  • Michael Huey, China Cupboard (no.39), 2010, color photograph mounted on aluminum, 15 3/4 x 21".

    Michael Huey

    Michael Huey’s “China Cupboards,” 2005–, is a series of medium-size photographs that portray shelves and cupboards stocked with china, glassware, serving dishes, trinkets, and other items whose purposes are not entirely clear. (One gropes for their obscure names: salvers, epergnes, tankards?) These depictions are not straightforward, however; they have been printed in the negative, reversing their colors. So blues become orange—of which there are frequent dense patches, suggesting a collection of delftware—and the whites come up in shades of the gray scale. The shadows around each

  • Matthew Benedict, Baker and Chimney Sweep, 2001/2010, sepia-toned black-and-white photograph, 14 x 11".

    Matthew Benedict

    The works presented in Matthew Benedict’s “Dramatis Personae” are photographs made as studies for paintings—but they are striking nonetheless. Portraying archetypes from unfamiliar parables and allegories—the cabin boy, the sea god, the widow, the sideshow freak—the sepia-toned images distinctly resemble daguerreotypes: Most of the figures pose in a manner that suggests stillness (rather than frozen movement), and the prints have odd unfocused areas and various flecks and scratches. Some of these flaws are not part of a photographic plate or film but appear on the walls and floor

  • John Gerrard, Cuban School (Community 5th of October) 2010, still from real-time computer simulation.

    John Gerrard

    John Gerrard’s Cuban School (Community 5th of October) 2010 is a projection of a slow pan around a very large building that is whitish, filthy, and decaying, with two long parallel rectangular structures and a shorter one in between, all joined by a breezeway. The view of the building along one side is close enough to allow audiences to see the patterns in the window screens and the busted-out shutters; at the short side of the building and then all the rest of the way around, the view becomes more expansive, with yards and yards of lush grass, a rickety fence punctuated with skimpy trees, and

  • Patrick Jackson

    Patrick Jackson’s “Tchotchke Stacks,” 2010, comprise just that: stacks of trinkets separated by sheets of glass in five, six, and seven layers. Each layer holds just four trinkets, some on little mirrored pedestals that equalize their varying heights, and this generous spacing, plus the invisible glass and mirrored boxes, makes them appear to float.

    These figurines, models, souvenirs, and statuettes, which the artist buys at thrift stores, seem to be arranged with studied randomness, as if to express the very variety of the medium: Michelangelo’s David appears multiple times, as a bust and in

  • Rivane Neuenschwander

    An introductory catalogue text for “A Day Like Any Other,” a mid-career survey of work by Rivane Neuenschwander, makes the rather obvious point that the circle is one of the artist’s favored motifs. It does appear frequently: as a soap bubble, as bucket rims, as dots, as zeros, and as holes punched in film. Although there is something at once too hardworking and too easy about the circle—able as it is, in its emptiness and suggestiveness, to carry all manner of allusive weight—this exhibition sets up a neat formal and metaphysical call-and-response that lifts the shape from the realm of symbolic

  • Josephine Meckseper

    Josephine Meckseper, well attuned to the ways in which consumer products are arranged to concoct desire, creates facsimiles of store displays in which all the elements are present, with the charm—that ineffable whiff of possibility that propels a buyer toward opening his or her wallet—replaced by astringent commentary. In a recent show at Elizabeth Dee, the artist plausibly conjured the auto showrooms around the corner on Eleventh Avenue, with their decor of aggressive male Minimalism (mirrors, black surfaces, lots of chrome) that equates power with clean lines and metal. Meckseper anatomizes

  • Ursula von Rydingsvard

    Ursula von Rydingsvard’s Blackened Word, 2008, an enormous, rippling accumulation of cedar and graphite, brings to mind the ruins of Angkor Wat as they appear in the final scene of Wong Kar-wai’s 2000 film, In the Mood for Love, which finds the heartbroken hero whispering something into a crack in a decaying wall, seeming almost to want to hide in it. Blackened Word unfolds as one walks around it, a hulking shape irregularly darkened with graphite and cleft with creases, dips, and fjords, some roomy enough to accommodate an arm or a small torso, some just big enough for a probing finger, or

  • Mores McWreath

    Mores McWreath’s video Remain, 2009, takes place in a monochromatic retail wasteland, a rubble-filled, computer-generated landscape, recalling a Best Buy warehouse after a riot. Announced by an electronic chime, the artist appears in this charmless CGI interior to deliver gnomic and self help–inflected pronouncements. Dressed like a sales associate, in khaki trousers (with the size sticker still attached) and shapeless polo shirt, with his head neatly shaved and a microphone attached to his lapel, he seems perfectly harmless, but the irony quotient of his words is hard to measure: He alternately

  • Spencer Finch

    In a darkish room you focus on the outline of a window, cast on a wall by a street lamp outside. Every so often a brighter light sweeps through the space, from the headlights of a car driving past, briefly lifting the room from darkness to a kind of twilight and then disappearing. There is nothing else to see.

    This is Spencer Finch’s Paper Moon (Studio Wall at Night), 2009. But there is no street lamp, no window, no car; the work is an effect, or series of effects, laboriously re-created with various media, including a model train on a track, to bring to viewers this particular artifact from the