Critics’ Picks

View of “GLEN,” 2013.

Bristol

David Wojtowycz

WORKS | PROJECTS
Sydney Row
September 14 - October 26

A fluctuating light in a succession of pastel hues emanates from the sculpture at the center of David Wojtowycz’s exhibition, but rejecting a James Turrell-like sublime, it is grounded in customized light boxes spelling out the word GLEN. Mounted on construction fencing, the sculpture, which is titled Glen (all works 2013), is part nightclub sign and part mausoleum: The entire show, it turns out, is an homage to—and an expanded portrait of—this deceased person. The press release gives his years as 1960–1986; he is described as a “twenty-six-year-old trucker from Chicago” (suggesting a caption in a porn magazine, in which case his name may anyway be fictional). This paucity of information is fleshed out in a row of works on paper (also titled Glen) underneath a single neon tube, which offer a disorientingly oblique view of Glen’s life and context. The artist asks: “What good is a biography if it is not linked to every other thing?” and thus the images and objects here all revolve around the person who was or was not Glen.

This premise and its execution create a haunting Lynchian atmosphere that we are emotionally involved with yet forever excluded from understanding. Many of the works in Glen are black-and-white watercolors on paper that previously served some other purpose. One such image shows a family with an early-model personal computer. Another has typed details of a hotel and flight reservation. The gulf between us and the purported source material spills over into our encounter with the exhibition: There is no clear line between appropriated historical reality, fiction, and artwork. A text painting reading 1969/1969 seems to twist both Felix Gonzalez-Torres’s Untitled (Perfect Lovers), 1991, and On Kawara’s date paintings into the service of this exhibition’s uncanny disappeared world. Hung separately, meanwhile, is what seems to be another modified advertisement—Untitled, which depicts a blacked-out object on a mountain road underneath the text ALL DAY EVERY DAY FOREVER. It both is and is not a hearse, a blacked-out automobile, and a symbol of the unknown that condenses this exhibition’s strange and artificial sadness.