Critics’ Picks

Still from Legacy, 2005.

Still from Legacy, 2005.

New York

Jóhannes Atli Hinriksson

Haswellediger
465 West 23rd Street
January 5–February 4, 2006

New York–based Icelandic artist Jóhannes Atli Hinriksson cites a seventeenth-century legend by Brynjolfur Fra Minnanupi about two talking ships as an aesthetic touchstone for his show. Knowing that bad weather is approaching, the ships attempt to stay in port until the captain of one vessel invokes the devil and the ship sets sail, naturally getting lost at sea. It's the nihilism and brutality of this narrative that Hinriksson seems to connect with, rather than the nautical motifs. The show includes, among other grotesque creations, motorcycle helmets smeared with paint and festooned with horns; a cobweb crafted from chains; and a messy collage incorporating bits of soft porn. Two videos reminiscent of Tony Oursler's early work are made with claymation figures and explore epic-saga subjects: life, death, and creation. In Dr., 2005, a tinfoil Giacometti-type figure putters about his studio/laboratory, literally playing with fire, while a second video features the slaughter of a papier-mâché cow. Simultaneously bombastic, arch, and absurd, Hinriksson's work is interesting precisely because it masquerades as naïf—something crafted in the bedroom by a teenage metalhead—while a closer look shows a knowing poeticism, more akin to Minnanupi.