Critics’ Picks

Underbush, 2003. Installation view.

New York

Jane Benson

Satellite
94 Prince Street
January 7 - February 10

In recent projects at the World Financial Center and Socrates Sculpture Park, Jane Benson presented artificial plants in their natural habitats—a corporate lobby and waiting room, respectively. But there was something strange about her plastic shrubbery: Each leaf had been cut into a geometric shape or lacy pattern. Her installation at Satellite also makes sly use of foliage and its mass-produced (mis)representations. Here, she’s handpainted in camouflage colors hundreds of those cheap foil garlands whose intricate forms suggest stylized greenery and fruit. They hang in drooping swags from the ceiling, radiating outward from a pine-needle centerpiece and transforming the gallery into something between a Viennese ballroom and an obstacle course at boot camp. A suit of combat fatigues hangs on one wall, carefully shredded along its camouflage-pattern outline, so that it seems to be dissolving into a vegetal mass. Opulent and absurdly labor intensive (the artist estimates that it took her eight months to paint all those garlands), Benson’s installation reads as an unsettling reverie on the military passion for pomp.