Critics’ Picks

View of “Jason Dodge,” 2018.

View of “Jason Dodge,” 2018.

New York

Jason Dodge

Casey Kaplan
121 West 27th Street
June 21–July 26, 2018

Presented without specific details—such as work titles, dates, or any other elucidating information—Jason Dodge’s puzzle of an exhibition encourages viewers to make their own sense of the seemingly incongruous objects dispersed across the gallery floor. Reflecting his engagement with poetry, Dodge does not treat his ready-made materials as indifferent objects, but rather as charged symbols to be arranged in service of allegorical readings. It doesn’t take long for themes to materialize: Migration, displacement, and transience are just a few.

The dead bees and ant traps that line walls and dot corners offer up a grim tale of migration as infestation—a framing often employed by hard-core nationalists across the United States and Europe. An empty birdcage rests between two pigeon-seed bags that are chillingly stuffed with feathers, becoming makeshift pillows. The bed linens found throughout not only transpose the private and domestic to a public setting but conjure up blankets used by immigrant street vendors to display their wares. Itinerant markets are alluded to in a sculpture featuring sheets and an electric blanket stacked atop an open cash register containing foreign currency and wishbones.

Stripped of their functionality and removed from circulation, Dodge’s commonplace materials propose meaning, however indeterminate, as an alternative to use and exchange value. A series of three-legged chairs twisted into knots are bound by computer cables and balanced on drinking glasses; outmoded video projectors suggest an abandoned ersatz theater; a curious collection of scraps and spare parts resembles a transient’s encampment. Like the birdcage, Dodge’s arrangements point to an absence—specifically, our accountability for the assembled objects and this surreal landscape.