Critics’ Picks

Sam Moyer, pound of bad land, 2008, mixed media, 4 1/2 x 7 1/2".

New York

“Bring Me Back a T-Shirt”

V&A
98 Mott Street #206
August 6 - August 23

The premise for “Bring Me Back a T-Shirt” is the request that a set of experiences—a vacation, perhaps, or in this instance an exhibition—be packaged and communicated via a cheap one-liner. Curated by Erik Lindman, the show features four young artists (including the curator himself) whose design aesthetic belies a subtle impulse to slow their work’s reception. Davis Rhodes’s mirrored Plexiglas installation Not Yet Titled (all works 2008) allows visitors to view the entire (albeit small) gallery space refracted in a single plane. Rhodes cut the yellow material into a diamond shape abstracted from a hip-hop album cover. Scuffed and warped, the mirror yields numerous reinterpretations of the space—no definitive image prevails. Texts can be similarly multifaceted: Sam Moyer reifies her interest in the Badlands of South Dakota through a stack of miscellaneous items hung together on the wall. Two rubber bands bind a paperback book (the Selected Poems of Ezra Pound) given to Moyer by her mother, which the artist carried in her pocket, to a stone Moyer picked up in the region. Sealed, Moyer’s hermetic book won’t even divulge itself, much less the artist’s diaristic propositions.

The show oscillates between design-as-decor and design-as-template, as Lindman toys with the roles of both artist and curator. Ryan Foerster exhibits one of his photographs of exuberant, vulnerable youth near a punkish black fabric and metal patch that has been laid on the floor; while the pairing sets up a comparison to interior design, the latter element’s roughness is crucial to drawing out the photograph’s delicate formal composition. Lindman’s monochromes reference swatches of paint, though his interest is less in the found object than in the varieties of its iterations. (For instance, EL3 [Bikini] uses collaged newsprint to mix themes of appropriation and abstraction.) EL1 (Sawdust 1) is made from tempera and sawdust and is bare at the edges of the canvas, while another painting, EL2 (Purple one), features spray enamel and glue. Hung together as a diptych, discrepancies between their texture and size unbind any perception of the artwork as fixed object.