Critics’ Picks

View of “Wash Up.” Background left: Jen DeNike, Next Door, 2007.

View of “Wash Up.” Background left: Jen DeNike, Next Door, 2007.


Jen DeNike and Marianne Vitale

Tensta Konsthall
Taxingegränd 10 Box 4001
April 28–June 10, 2007

Since the transformation of this space into a “Leopard Cube” one year ago (every surface was painted with a leopard print), the venue itself has become a unique ongoing installation project. Any artistic intervention into this environment becomes an extension of this visually and conceptually brazen infrastructure. Jen DeNike’s Next Door and Marianne Vitale’s Missing Book of Spurs (both 2007) are the exhibitions currently plugged into this context. DeNike built a freestanding house, complete with an installation and screening environment, in the middle of the hall. The piece examines, among other things, how the American flag is folded, and reveals a softer, more reflective understanding of this globally present, overdetermined symbol. Indulging in personal and family experience, DeNike has infused the installation with a strong sense of intimacy, making the flag assert something other than the presence of power.

Vitale’s drawings and video installation are installed in a whitewashed section of the Leopard Cube. She creates highly subjective and alluring worlds in both media. Visitors are given glimpses of the not-so-visible aspects of metropolitan existence (the drawings, for example, evoke both automatic writing and street graffiti); Vitale offers both intimate reflections and public revelations. A performance at the opening reception by New York artist Michael Portnoy, which involved seemingly sacred yet absurd rituals interspersed with burlesque songs, added immeasurably to these exhibitions. These artists’ work, like the Konsthall itself, is always raw yet sophisticated.