Critics’ Picks

Charles Harlan, Turbine, 2018,
rubber, wood, steel, fluorescent light, electrical components, 62 x 30 x 30".


“Material History”

JDJ | The Ice House
17 Mandalay Drive
January 26–March 10, 2019

The Ice House belongs to a brood of service quarters set back, uphill, from a parent estate on the Hudson River. The building is perched on the lip of its own pond, where large blocks of ice were once extracted and hauled indoors to create a refrigerated storage space. It has since been converted into a white-walled gallery, and to see the art, one must first drive along an icy gravel path, through the complex of buildings, to find the warm and welcoming curator Jayne Drost Johnson, who devotedly waits.

Her current show features work by three artists: Yuji Agematsu, Charles Harlan, and Nari Ward. The theme of “everyday objects”—ranging from carefully salvaged dross to mundane materials—loosely binds the selection. The standout work, at least in this setting, is Harlan’s Turbine, 2018, a stacked sculpture that combines a roof-mountable wind turbine with a car tire, a large wooden spool, a cage of rocks, a steel drum, and a fluorescent light. It’s as if Harlan were a resident god who sampled cross sections of substances around the property and spliced the findings into one object. To linger in front of the sculpture is to experience this overdetermined thing blossoming into its many material associations.

What ultimately unifies the various works in the show is the space itself: There is a diamond-shaped skylight lodged in the roof of the gallery that admits a cool winter light, which flows over the artwork and floor like cold milk, synthesizing the show into something sweet and ethereal.