Critics’ Picks

View of “Loveless Marriages,” 2010. From left: Anicka Yi, Yes, It’s Made for That, 2010; Anicka Yi, 235,681K of Digital Spit, 2010; Anicka Yi, Skype Sweater, 2010; Anicka Yi, City Type Century, 2010.

New York

Josh Kline and Anicka Yi

47 Canal | Grand Street
291 Grand Street 2nd Floor
April 9–May 3, 2010

Capping off (and gamely repudiating) a series of exhibitions at 179 Canal featuring collaborations, Josh Kline and Anicka Yi’s exhibition “Loveless Marriages” playfully suggests the kind of irreconcilable differences that make good creative bonds go bad. Although Yi and Kline work together in the collective Circular File, they’ve staged a split for the purposes of this show, dividing the space down the middle to feature work from their individual practices. On one side, Kline’s treacly mural of a blue sky with puffy white clouds foregrounds computer workstations, slathered with paint in the (once) teal and (now) chrome iMac palette. The wall art includes celebrity portraits that Kline has manipulated by Photoshopping in aspects of different celebrities’ faces (Jenna Elfman colonizes Lisa Kudrow’s head, while Brangelina take Ethan Hawke and Uma Thurman’s features). The results would be puerile if they weren’t so unsettling—suggesting, like the rest of the installation, the disquieting indifference to surface that's propagated by a regime of superficiality.

Yi also targets the cover, but in a darker key. If Kline’s installation evokes Silicon Valley, Yi’s is rooted in references to Sister Ping’s smuggling of Fujianese immigrants into New York’s Chinatown and, also, the digestive tract. From an army parachute billowing in the corner to mysterious objects bundled in aluminum foil and plastic wrap, her works call to mind border crossings: “an underground version,” as Yi says, “of the American Dream.” Into this, Yi incorporates the metabolic system (a transparent Longchamps bag filled with hair gel and tripe, a pair of mixing bowl “stomachs” floating various objects in gesso) and its capacity to conceal and digest particularities. But Yi balances this sense of insalubrity and complicity with a superiorly silly list of materials. Discovering them gradually in the work is proof of what certainly unites Yi and Kline—a spirited irreverence that serves as a foil for deeper critical juices.