Critics’ Picks

Brian Guidry, SURGE, 2008, mixed media. Installation view.

Brian Guidry, SURGE, 2008, mixed media. Installation view.

New Orleans

Brian Guidry

Washington Artillery Park
Decatur Street
November 1, 2008–February 26, 2009

Flanked by two tourist meccas, the French Quarter and the Riverfront, Brian Guidry’s covert installation SURGE, 2008, is cleverly ensconced beneath the Washington Artillery Park’s steps. Given a militaristic title that befits its context, SURGE also implies other inundations of destruction and force. Dozens of objects ranging in volume and shape emerge in this hidden space: a sink, a door, barrels, wheels, pipes, balls, and oars are among the plethora of objects coated in a uniform khaki hue. The resurrected assembly merges with the setting, incorporating the adjoining wrought-iron fence, weathered cypress tree, and concrete curb into the controlled sprawl of the composition.

Guidry’s camouflaged utilitarian compilation presents an appropriate paradox in New Orleans. Heaps of industrial and commercial objects are everyday sights; even beyond the fence bordering this installation, viewers can find similarly discarded objects strewn about. But Guidry’s aestheticized conglomeration provides a familiar strained semblance of normalcy despite its systematic entropy.

Another key element emerges here: the ironic cadence of a laugh track, emanating from the work. Regular crescendos of laughter create a tidal momentum, while the manufactured emotions of the sounds add another layer of absurdity to the installation. This makeshift monument, erected at the onset of Prospect.1 in New Orleans as a KKProjects satellite exhibition, provides a well-executed merger of art and landscape amid a current abundance of in situ work throughout the city.