Critics’ Picks

Endless Comfort, 2006.

Endless Comfort, 2006.


Nayland Blake

45 Vyner Street
June 22–July 30, 2006

In artworks both brutal and tender, Nayland Blake puts his personal relationships, emotions, and anxieties on display, linking his own memories to a range of popular references. Blake’s drawings, sculptures, and manipulated photographs included in this show, titled “The Expulsion from the Garden,” seem like the lonely traces of a tormented nightmare. At times, Blake’s work is present and tactile, as in the enormous swath of plush fake fur slung on an oversize towel rail in Endless Comfort, 2006. Elsewhere, works are distant and enigmatic, as in the film Cruise/Blue, 2006, which combines elements of William Friedkin’s Cruising (1980), the controversial film that sent Al Pacino’s New York City cop character undercover to gay nightclubs on an investigation of a serial killer targeting the gay community, and Blue (1993), the last film that Derek Jarman made before he died of AIDS in 1994. Aware of the onset of Jarman’s blindness when making Blue, Blake primarily uses audio to generate his film's meaning. In Companion, 2006, seemingly abandoned in a far corner, a T-shirt, emblazoned with the text “Gnome Fondler” and soaked in semen, lies supine atop bubble wrap in a trunk. This raw vulnerability strips the weighty symbolism of much of the show and makes painfully evident the emotional tumult that gives rise to it all.