Critics’ Picks

John Knight, Quiet Quality, 1974, electric blanket and text, dimensions variable.

Milan

John Knight

Ordet
Via Adige 17
June 6–June 29, 2019

“The sum of an artist is what he’s thinking . . . all day long,” once opined veteran Conceptualist John Knight, an artist whose art has not always graduated from the realm of thought: In 1975, Knight failed to convince the infamous LA gallerist Riko Mizuno to rent a searchlight and install it alone in her space. At the time, searchlights would have been a regular sight in the skyline. Cast from the hills of Hollywood to the lesser-known openings of malls and car dealerships, these beams epitomized LA’s identity as the city of celebrity and commerce. Knight’s hypothetical searchlight was never to be sold. Instead, only the right to rent and install it to the artist’s specifications would be acquired. It didn’t work out for Mizuno and Knight in 1975, but forty-four years later A work in situ, 2018, inaugurated Ordet, a nonprofit space based within a residential building in Milan.

Ordet hosted the searchlight inside the otherwise-empty gallery in the first part of a two-chapter Knight exhibition whose second portion, “Another work in situ,” is now on view and features Quiet Quality, 1974, an installation consisting of a short wall text—a ready-made real estate advertisement of a peculiarly literary bent—alongside a plugged-in and functioning electric blanket that is laid out bare on the floor, radiating useless heat. Knight’s dual proposal seems to deliver a poignant contradiction: On the one hand, he invites us to celebrate the opening of this new venue. On the other, he points toward the cold, complex realities of gentrification that often come attached to sites of cultural production.