Critics’ Picks

Steve Reinke, “Drawings,” 2013–16, ink on paper, each 9 x 12".


Steve Reinke

Isabella Bortolozzi Galerie
Schöneberger Ufer 61
March 15–April 9

In spite of the severe challenges posed by this gallery’s Berlin premises—as a model of a haute-bourgeois Altbau (old building) apartment, great, but as a place for showing art, it sucks—Steve Reinke has managed to pull off a pretty good show consisting of drawings, needlepoints, and a selection of the films for which he is best known, as well as two new ones: Boy Needs a Friend, 2015, and Welcome to David Wojnarowicz Week, 2016. The title of the show, “The Genital is Superfluous,” serves as a sardonic indication of Reinke’s always intriguing lo-fi collage technique. Stream-of-theory voice-overs and blips of music—typically overlooked or underheard pop songs and compositions by avant-garde composers—override bits of found footage, flashes of text, and grainy images of cute guys jerking off—the pervert’s bricolage. In the back room, the artist has programmed a “best-of” mix of such work, including short-form videos dating back to 1992. Unfortunately, most of the artist’s drawings have been hung in one of the darkened rooms where the newer videos play, forcing you to squint to make them out.

All these works on paper, simply labeled “Drawings,” 2013–16, are text based, with uppercase letters sketched in Reinke’s Raymond Pettibon–meets-retro-signage—with a dash of Herschell Gordon Lewis—hand. Here are some of the better ones: “LIBIDINAL ECONOMY IN RECESSION”; “LONELY GENITAL”; “LOVE MORE FEEL LESS”; “I SMELL LIKE THE FUCKING UNIVERSE”; “SLIGHTLY LESS HORNY THAN BEFORE.”