Critics’ Picks

Cassidy Toner, Let me know how it turns out, 2022, scratch-off lottery ticket, 11 x 7 4/5".

Cassidy Toner, Let me know how it turns out, 2022, scratch-off lottery ticket, 11 x 7 4/5".


Cassidy Toner

Rämistrasse 5
September 8–October 15, 2022

A year after Simone Biles’s and Naomi Osaka’s bold withdrawals and reports of a Great Resignation, the social contract defining success continues to be unsteadily renegotiated. Enter Cassidy Toner’s “Subverting expectations with bad humor and mediocre output,” which, by enacting its title, cannily reframes anti-ambition as an art of survival. A 114-foot metal garland wraps the exhibition, reminiscent of the middling kitsch of an earlier Cold War. Morning glories nestled among its leaves suggest nature spending beauty early and loads blown too soon, while the title, In loving memory of Haru Urara (all works 2022), namedrops the Japanese racehorse famous for invariably failing (like Wile E. Coyote, seen elsewhere in ceramic). Framed scratch-off lottery tickets, titled Let me know how it turns out, bear drawings—an Ad Reinhardt cartoon clock, chillaxing skeletons—carved into their still extant playing fields. Here a collector (or even her dealer), deciding Toner isn’t worth the long-term risk, might destroy these drawings for an immediate play at a little more wealth. Neutralizing chance by entombing it as art, they illustrate a desire to opt out of a cyclical system which pressures artists to perform like stocks and livestock. In admitting to not only a possibility of averageness, but a visual and conceptual attraction to it, Toner, another “promising young woman,” looks to retake some control within an exploitative art world. This exceptionality through the mediocre, in mid aesthetics and pursuits, entails a courageous inversion. Equidistant between somebody else’s definitions of winning and losing might lie a sustainable and healthy path to one’s top.