Between military strikes in Yemen and a spike in auto-plant injuries in Alabama, the modern world persists in its technological brutality. The good news? It may have created the tools for its own undoing long ago. The mechanisms that subjugate workers, women, people of color, and indigenous peoples are as much the products of modernity as is the democratization of media in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. The current exhibition here shines a light on a broad selection of historical pamphlets, newsletters, and posters—borrowed from the archive of historian Brad Duncan—where the American
John M. Armleder’s slickly designed Furniture Sculpture 230, 1989—made up of three antique-looking chairs on a monochromatic platform—evokes the culture of neoliberal professionalism via high-end decor. Flanking this work are several pieces that span a long career of formal upheaval. Among them are Untitled, Caput Mortuum (Untitled, Dead Head), 1968, and Haejangguk, 2016. They seem to have been capriciously produced and are quite different: The former is a minimalistic gouache drawing; the latter, a volatile splattering of paint, sequins, and glitter.
The element of chance in Armleder’s work—initially
Joe Fyfe is uninterested in the line between art and life, and this isn’t immediately apparent in his work. But his thinking about what he calls the dichotomy of “art and stuff”—his art being made from discarded products and advertising materials—elucidates that seeming indifference. The paintings and sculptures in Fyfe’s exhibition here—many of which incorporate found materials, such as kites and weathered fabrics used for advertising in Korea, which are then repurposed in Cambodia for tarpaulins and umbrellas—are hardly apolitical things. Fyfe himself says he deploys these materials to speak
A loose inspiration for Hermes Payrhuber’s multimedia installation Ode to the Rope with a Knot with a Hole, for Thomas Bernhard, 2016, is the titular author’s 1971 novella, Walking. The book, which is about a man triggered to madness by a questionable set of trousers in a storefront, contains frantic and labyrinthine monologues on perception, experience, and the state. Walking is an apt metaphor for this show, which seeks to corrupt the white cube’s displacing capabilities, despite the modern exhibition’s attempts to divorce viewers from realities beyond its parameters.
Martin Beck’s one day
After recently performing Samuel Beckett’s Not I (1972), actress Lisa Dwan wrote: “Only a few of us know what it is to hang in that darkness . . . till the curtain opens to let in the laser of light that fires the mouth and then to speak so fast you can’t think and think so fast you can’t speak . . . yet speak she must.” In the play, a disembodied mouth, illuminated by a single beam of light, spews an agitated text after a long silence. Save for this mouth, the room is pitch black, making the senses of those patrons in the dark acutely attuned to the language happening before them.
For Sam Lewitt’s