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Aidan Koch and Madeline Hollander

SIGNAL
260 Johnson Avenue
August 27, 2016–October 2, 2016

Aidan Koch, The Library Door, 2016, brass, dimensions variable.

The technofuturist aesthetic needs an update: Our visions of tomorrow still seem firmly tied to Jetsons-era stylings of burnished-metal robots and aerospace machines. For Drill (all works cited, 2016), Madeline Hollander shrewdly nods to these clichés. In the gallery’s expansive first room, the artist has deployed three aircraft-evacuation slides—those plump, inflatable ramps only ever witnessed on airplane-safety diagrams. They hang from the ceiling, each one a mass of gray and black nylon, more 1980s LaGuardia than current-day JFK. Below them, performers synchronously pace the floor, following invisible footpaths that Hollander adapted from assorted emergency-evacuation plans. They make swift turns and clean, angular flourishes, keeping step with one another on their prescribed course.

In the next room, Aidan Koch’s subjects have been given much less instruction. On one wall, a series of drawings, “A Game I-IV,” depicts several outlined figures dwelling in spare, schematic realms. In one drawing, a nude woman, standing in profile next to a gridded block, wonders aloud: “A game?” Nearby, another woman crouches over a mysterious black game piece and asks, “Will I know if I win?” Elsewhere, someone ominously replies from out of the frame: “You’ll know if you lose.”

Medieval and classical motifs bestow Koch’s works with a dense aura of mystery. The Library Door is a thin gold chain, hung from two nails. On one end dangles a hand-wrought brass key; on the other, a spider. A ceramic doorknob, Open Me, is affixed to one of the gallery’s doors, nearly six feet up. Other works—two masks, two miniature wooden ladders, twin candleholders, a centipede—rest upon a three-foot-high labyrinth in the center of the room. Hollander’s strict trajectories reveal a modern concern for order and efficiency, while Koch invokes an ancient world of folklore and myth. Maybe time is a wide, flat circle, and the past and future are merely different aesthetics.

Juliana Halpert