Critics’ Picks

View of “Zombi (scratch mix),” 2012.


Gavin Russom

Via Chiaia 229
February 10 - April 10

For his current solo exhibition, musician, producer, and artist Gavin Russom presents a heterogeneous gathering of mixed-media works, which he made without with his frequent collaborator, Delia Gonzalez. The attitude that underpins Russom’s interdisciplinary practice––including his meandering experimental music––is ironically reasserted by the show’s title: “Zombi (scratch mix).”

Here Russom stages a symbolic scene that is equally as inspired by a cult horror movie (Lucio Fulci’s 1979 Zombie 2) as it is by disquieting events. The opening scene of Fulci’s film shows an abandoned yacht floating in New York’s East River, the Twin Towers still standing tall in the background. For his part, Russom presents the towers in Vision (all works 2012) as if they were dressed up for Halloween, one as a witch and the other as a Native American. Meanwhile, The Messenger, a cardboard boat set adrift, appears in another room of the gallery. This work evokes Arnold Böcklin’s 1880 painting Isle of the Dead. As in that piece, a vessel seems to have come to the end of a silent, solitary journey, arriving at a non-site, a desolate landscape. Throughout the show, Russom replicates this atemporal panorama, probing the dark folds of reality and immersing it in a spectral atmosphere.

A series of drawings, deliberately naive and ingenuous in feeling, are installed along the “shoreline” of this bleak, unreal vista. It is a metaphoric landing, an attempt to return to origins and almost to liberate the unconscious. But this reference to otherness has a rival attraction in the disguise adopted to mask one of the most tragic symbols of our uncertain era.

Translated from Italian by Marguerite Shore.