Critics’ Picks

Ron Tran, Apartment #201, 2008, artist's current apartment door removed and displayed for duration of exhibition, dimensions variable.


“Everything Should Be Made as Simple as Possible, but Not Simpler”

Western Front Exhibitions
303 East 8th Avenue
June 7–July 12

A polemical survey of minimalist and conceptualist strategies by young artists, the exhibition “Everything Should Be Made as Simple as Possible, but Not Simpler” has been organized by Ph.D. candidate Juan Gaitan. These days, even a ramshackle institution like the artist-run Western Front, housed in a former Knights of Pythias hall, is ripe for critical intervention: Thus Ron Tran exhibits his front door, Arabella Campbell destructures the gallery space, and Abbas Akhavan offers a rough-and-ready mourning for alternative art. Tran’s Apt. 201, 2008, takes place both in the gallery and in his nearby apartment. With his apartment door as metaphoric portal, not only are the domestic and the aesthetic intertwined, but Tran’s private life is also suddenly, literally, vulnerable. Property is theft, indeed. In To experience the space of the gallery without opaque mass, a trajectory of 526 square feet, in one line, 2008, Campbell’s wall text instructs the gallery visitor to exit and walk in a straight line to a park bench a block and a half away—artwork as dérive. Indeed, the viewer’s body is arguably Campbell’s medium: As we walk, we become the work of art. Akhavan’s sly untitled series of works is easy to miss. A dozen or so bouquets of flowers, of the cheap kind bought at corner stores, are taped to the lamppost outside the gallery, as if a car accident has taken place there. Inside the building’s foyer, shoes are piled in a corner, suggesting both the dance studio that shares space with the gallery and, perhaps, a religious entryway.