Critics’ Picks

Concerto in Black and Blue (installation view), 2002.

Concerto in Black and Blue (installation view), 2002.

New York

David Hammons

Ace Gallery
275 Hudson Street
November 14, 2002–February 15, 2003

Doing justice to the vast, echoing Ace Gallery is a substantial challenge to even the most megalomaniacal of artists, so it is to David Hammons’s credit that he manages it with nothing more than the contents of a container at the reception desk. The gallery itself is completely empty and pitch-dark. In the container is a giveaway supply of coin-size flashlights that, although tiny, emit a blue beam powerful enough to illuminate the user’s immediate surroundings, and which used collectively can transform the space into an eerily beautiful chamber of silhouettes and shadows. Throughout the '90s Hammons stuck mostly to out-of-the-way venues, but Concerto in Black and Blue represents a successful reanimation of a more conventional setting. The artist conjures manifold allusions via the simplest of means: Luring us with the pleasurable chill of an X-Files episode, Concerto in Black and Blue speaks to a host of contemporary anxieties—personal, political and creative. The truth is out there, it suggests, but if you intend to look for it, you’d better watch your back.