Critics’ Picks

View of “Stranger Debris Roll Roll Roll,” 2013.

New York

Erika Vogt

New Museum
235 Bowery
June 5 - September 8

A black, plaster-cast anchor dangles precariously from the ceiling near the entrance to Erika Vogt’s debut solo museum exhibition. It is a harbinger of exchange, and of the invisible and enigmatic transactions at play throughout the show, particularly in the eleven additional suspended objects—some found, some fabricated—that visitors navigate in the space. The anchor extends from a rope connected to a pulley above, and it hovers in the air because the same rope is secured to a counterweight on the floor, to a cast of a less recognizable object. The effect favors tension and illusion, but there is also fluidity or a give-and-take that suffuses this and the rest of Vogt’s floating field. To some degree her installation, Stranger Debris Roll Roll Roll, 2013, recalls the erect and taut lines delineating and disintegrating space in a Fred Sandback work, but only if they were able to loosen up and surrender to flux.

Counterbalances neutralize and exert an opposing influence, always through a trade-off. Five looped, pulsating videos address this phenomenon in staccato rhythms. Three include scenes of objects being handed off and discussed between friends; these interactions are overlaid with drawings and photographs that wash over and imbue the works with a mesmerizing, push-pull effect. In a fourth video, brightly hued dollar bills flip continuously like Technicolor hotcakes. They appear animated—possessed, even—by the “magic” that Marxists ascribe to capital. Yet like Vogt’s hovering objects above, the bills are magical not only for their shifting exchange-value but also for their peculiar, talismanic powers. Vogt’s currency is printed on one side with a fitting acknowledgment of debt—IOU—but her exigent critique of fictitious capital acquires even more traction when one notices that some of the spasmodically flashing dollars in a final video feature a different, handwritten, and even more apt notice, layered over two figures exchanging objects: THIS MAY BE YOUR LAST.