Critics’ Picks

London

Eric N. Mack

Simon Lee | London
12 Berkeley Street
April 13–May 12, 2018

That textile work has largely been thought of as a type of female pastime or labor—mostly unwaged and certainly unrecognized as an art form until only recently—does not go unnoticed in Eric N. Mack’s collaged assemblages. In fact, one could understand an element of Mack’s practice to be an homage to both the medium’s ideology and its formal possibilities. The artist’s new body of work dangles here, between tribute and material inquiry. This exhibition, titled “Misa Hylton-Brim,” takes its cue from the eponymous ’90s hip-hop stylist, who iconically dressed the likes of Missy Elliott and Puff Daddy. Throughout the gallery, fabrics hanging in sculptural arrangements contrast with blue U-Haul moving blankets directly installed on several walls. On one of the suspended pieces, Blue Duet II (all works 2018), a bright-orange “mood” sticker––yes, Project Runway’s mood––notes the fabric style and yardage and cunningly brings the viewer back to the process of production, where finding the right material is as important as what you might do with it.

Mostly found are also the images, texts, magazines, and newspaper cuttings directly pasted onto the blankets and that in some works, such as (Easter) The Spring / The Holy Ground, sit alongside diagrams, notes, and drawings by the artist. For the most part covered by abstract dyed lines and shapes of various weights and colors, the ephemera among these works include Mary J. Blige gracing the cover of Pulse! magazine, a press release for Alvin Baltrop’s recent exhibition “At the Hudson River Piers,” and a mixture of fashion advertisements. The compositions take the form of affective mood boards, undoubtedly of Hylton-Brim’s aesthetic, that unpack the processes of sampling, referencing, and instructing that are crucial to both Mack’s practice and the hip-hop subcultures to which he alludes.