Critics’ Picks

Kendell Geers, Rack, 2009, metal, beer bottles, 28 x 29 x 29".

London

Kendell Geers

Stephen Friedman Gallery | 25 - 28 Old Burlington Street
25 - 28 Old Burlington Street
November 27 - January 16

Kendell Geers is the artist who urinated in Marcel Duchamp’s Fountain, 1917, in 1993, among other shocking and geopolitically subversive acts. For his second solo show at this gallery, Geers has entered into a more sophisticated dialogue with the grand old master. The Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors, Even, 1915–23, has, in Geers’s interpretation, been stripped bare of its geometric forms and filled with bullet holes that send spiderweb cracks through the glass. It is now called Fresh Widow, 2009. The work not only refers to Duchamp’s erotic plays with French windows but also implies that the bachelors have just been killed. Given that the Large Glass has been interpreted to near absurdity, one tends to forget that its multilayered enactment of physical and alchemical unions was a mockingbird, a scornful critique of the very criticism it inspired. This is a legacy that Geers beautifully pays forward by both evoking and attacking the specters of Duchamp. This violent act shows that all well-directed criticism is an indirect affirmation of the criticized.

Geers’s Rack, 2009, which postproduces Duchamp’s Bottle Rack, 1914, one of the first readymades, is adorned with broken Heineken bottles. At a distance, the installation looks like a Christmas tree. It is surrounded by Geers’s usual Bataille-inspired hermetic patterns of letters that secrete the word FUCK, among others.

Geers also displays a podium with a small glass bottle filled with one hundred cubic centimeters of nitrous oxide, that is, laughing gas. He couldn’t have found a more compelling twist to this anarchic violation of all cultural and art-historical determinations. When the world is crumbling, the only thing that remains is laughter.