Critics’ Picks

Jay Heikes, Our Frankenstein (Bottom), 2015, cement, steel, plastic, fabric, paint, 43 x 13 x 9".

Jay Heikes, Our Frankenstein (Bottom), 2015, cement, steel, plastic, fabric, paint, 43 x 13 x 9".



Fondazione Giuliani
via Gustavo Bianchi 1
October 10–December 12, 2015

In an experiment in curating, Jay Heikes brought together his closest friends for a dialogue that moved across the Atlantic, resulting in works created specifically for this exhibition. This participatory proposal recalls structuralist criticism of the 1960s, but with a contemporary spin. At the entrance to the space, Heikes’s The Family Tree, 2003, heralds the exhibition’s distinctively collaborative nature. Frog Prints, 2014, by Heikes and Michael Stickrod, entrusts the execution of the work to the unpredictable movement of an actual frog sprinkled with paint. Elsewhere, Jessica Jackson Hutchins’s Painted with Starts, 2015, combines ceramics and fabric atop a picnic table that the artist received from the curator.

The multiple authors hidden behind each piece challenge the present-day obsession with personality in the art world, putting the focus back on the work. Heikes’s Our Frankenstein (Bottom), 2015, in which a single figure is composed from garments that the participating artists contributed, creating a monstrously jumbled creature, epitomizes the overall theme of this exhibition. This piece embodies the notion of authorship as Marcel Duchamp’s Rrose Sélavy taught us: nurtured by freedom and irony.

This exhibition as a whole refers to the Surrealist cadavre exquis, or exquisite corpse, and evokes that parlor game’s playful and surprising atmosphere. As Heikes bluntly states, we are confronted with a very American garden throughout the show: “Drunken, dumb, colorful and of marginal taste.”

Translated from Italian by Marguerite Shore.