Critics’ Picks

Jon Rafman, Dream Journal (Wound Man Closet), 2016, CNC-engraved wood, acrylic, video, TV screen, two speakers, electrical cables, 71 x 26 x 40 1/2".


Mitchell Anderson and Jon Rafman

Galerie Maria Bernheim
Limmatstrasse 257
June 11–August 13

Titled “Posthumous Lives,” this is an exhibition of work by two artists who are very much still alive. Mitchell Anderson contributes High Zest, 2015–16, a stack of trading cards from Operation Enduring Freedom—the name of US military operations in Afghanistan from 2001 to 2014. The packaging reads: “A portion of proceeds from this product will be contributed to charities related to the war against terrorism.” I’m sure glad we won that war and can finally stop enduring all this freedom; the sales from the cards were no doubt a major contributing factor. Elsewhere, Anderson shows a series of titanium-steel wall pieces, “A Symposium on ‘Alien,’” 2014–16, containing charts, etched via laser, deconstructing the 1979 film Alien.

Then there’s Jon Rafman, who has made two marble reliefs featuring two dragons fucking a car. In Dragons Fucking Car I (Relief), 2016, one dragon slides his dong into the exhaust pipe while licking the back windshield. The other dragon has just jizzed, greedily licking his own sauce off the front hood.

This is the language of dreams––which is to say, made of the stuff of real life, since reality is the main ingredient in our dream juice. This seems literalized in Rafman’s video Dream Journal (Wound Man Closet), 2016. You shut yourself up in this claustrophobically contained space––a box, actually––and watch the artist’s dreams animated before your very eyes. All sorts of things appear: Mel Gibson posing against a graffiti backdrop that reads “Legalize murder”; Britney Spears taking a piss. It could all be real––it is––and yet it’s not. It’s confusing, and reassuring because of that. Life is what happens when you’re too busy dying to really notice it. And anyway, the alien’s been inside us all along.