Critics’ Picks

Ernst Fischer, Blind Date 1, 2012, books, dimensions variable.

New York

Ernst Fischer

MALRAUX'S PLACE
253 36th St
November 24 - January 1

Freud once wrote that when “a dream is written out it may perhaps fill half a page. The analysis setting out the dream-thoughts underlying it may occupy six, eight, or a dozen times as much space.” In the same way, it’s possible to make a quick inventory of the objects around the faux living room that comprises Ernst Fischer’s “Greedy Fish”: A picture on the wall depicts a Cash Money Records–style blinged-out dollar sign superimposed on a photo of a red snapper’s eye; a coffee table bears the word “credit”—a microphotograph of the imprint on a bar of silver; on the bookshelf, volumes of theory are pressed together with children’s books in a series of “blind dates.” But sitting—or lying—down on the couch in this simulated parlor, and trying to decode the latent thoughts underlying the eccentric collection of objects, gradually results in a deluge of meanings.

On the one hand, the eponymous fish’s eye is a stylish and cartoonish little ideogram that elicits a smirk. On the other hand, it’s a dark and cynical nightmare about the nature of art: a dead, vile object that bears an emblem of commerce at its most vulgar and base. The “blind dates” of smooching books on the shelf form playful and elegant little sculptures that call to mind the intellectual pleasure of reading and thinking. They could also equally be biting satire about the meaningless proliferation of theories that we use to understand art: These fancy books are not for an actual reader but are simply closed in on themselves, and could even be imagined to be fornicating like a monstrous race of insects. The manifold possibilities that spill forth are disconcerting and refreshing.