Critics’ Picks

Jessica Mein, Billboard, 2010, still from a video animation, 4 minutes 15 seconds.

New York

Jessica Mein

Simon Preston
301 Broome Street
April 17–May 29

“Verso Reverso,” Jessica Mein’s solo debut in New York, has its origins in the outdoor advertising ban enacted in her hometown of São Paulo four years ago. In her collages and animations, the promotional imagery of discarded billboard sheets serves as the basis for a sustained exploration of the paradox of repetition. Approaching Blue Windows, 2011, the viewer passes through a series of teasing discrete resolutions: The collage appears first as muted, high-contrast fragment, showcasing the sharp, unambiguous lines of a commercial photograph depicting a modern building in front of a blue sky. But the sheets are hung loosely, and on a closer look their creases and folds reveal the regularity of the half-tone printing process, in which dots of cyan, yellow, and magenta are closely gridded. On this surface the artist has punched out holes and reglued their respective disks in patterns mirroring the printing process. Using sheets that were discarded for production faults, Mein mingles those mechanical errors with her handmade interventions, the repeated forms subtly changed by their very reappearance.

In an animation on the opposite wall, Billboard, 2010, collaged and overdrawn stills from a video show a worker mounting a billboard. In the jerky stitching of the animation, objects keep diverging and reframing: The ladder loses rungs (at times the worker hangs in space with Buster Keaton resolve), the billboard sheets disappear and reappear. In its playfulness and emphasis on process, the parallel installation of an animation and the commonplace raw ingredients it is made of recalls William Kentridge, and for both artists meaning is built up through the reappearance of images, changed at every step and coalescing into a coordinated effect.