Critics’ Picks

View of “Jacob Jackmauh and Lina McGinn: (At) the end (of a Rainbow),” 2021–22.

View of “Jacob Jackmauh and Lina McGinn: (At) the end (of a Rainbow),” 2021–22.

New York

Jacob Jackmauh and Lina McGinn

Art Lot
206 Columbia Street
October 23, 2021–February 28, 2022

Nestled in gravel amid scattered weeds and creepers, Lina McGinn’s enormous foam sculptures of Lucky Charms Just Magical Marshmallows merrily radiate synthetic color. Among them are a coterie of mixed-media works by Jacob Jackmauh that echo the menagerie one might find at a playground or a theme park, including an owl with opaque binocular eyes, and a snail shell with a coin slot.

McGinn and Jackmauh’s outdoor exhibition takes its title from singer Earl Grant’s 1958 ballad “(At) the end (of a Rainbow),” in which the crooner silkily intones phrases that turn precipitously from auspicious to foreboding: “At the end of the river / The water stops its flow / At the end of a highway / There’s no place you can go.” The sculptures also revel in a cheery pessimism. McGinn’s scaled-up grotesques interrogate these treacly cereal “charms,” which look more like colorful shapeless blobs than rainbows or shooting stars. The nostalgia that surrounds this childhood treat vanishes after that hit of sugar causes one’s body to crash. Jackmauh’s works—including an oversized water spigot, and a crocodile whose open mouth contains a fixture resembling a bathtub drain, a shower spout, or even the receiver of a kiddie phone—likewise deflate those objects of youthful play and diversion. Sadly, they only appear functional—the viewer is held in anticipation of something that will, frustratingly, never arrive.

McGinn and Jackmauh’s spunky, humorous critiques of mass-produced juvenilia parallel theorist Sianne Ngai’s writing on the late capitalist underpinnings of minor aesthetic categories, such as “cute.” Ngai understands “cuteness” as an index for consumption, which elicits affective responses that can vary from tenderness to aggression. Such reactions prompt one not only to consume the object, but also to identify with it. The artists’ sculptures are an indictment of this brand of false advertising; the Lucky Charms rainbow does lead to a pot of gold, but for General Mills and no one else, alas.