Critics’ Picks

Downloading, 2005.

Downloading, 2005.

New York

Negativland

Gigantic ArtSpace [GAS]
Closed as of 2007. Contact Lea Rekow, below, for Inquiries.
September 9–October 22, 2005

Sandwiched between ‘70s agitators like Ant Farm and more recent groups like the Yes Men, Negativland has been going strong for twenty-five years, an anniversary commemorated by this retrospective of their work. Among their best-known culture jamming exploits is their album U2, which includes liberal sampling from U2's album Joshua Tree (prompting a landmark 1991 intellectual property case in which U2's record label, Island Records, sued Negativland and SST). In addition to a listening station playing U2 is “U2 v. Negativland iPod,” a one-hour program of video from the last seven years; photographic works, including the moving “Death Sentence Series” (photos of crashed cars with accompanying text from letters found in the vehicles); and sculptures, books, and other objects. While the realist aesthetic of some of the paintings and the kitsch-heavy collages can feel hackneyed, in the era of Homeland Security and Bush II, Negativland's absurdist-humor-laden agitprop seems more pertinent than ever.