Critics’ Picks

View of “NEON,” 2008. From left: Brendan Van Hek, White out/Black out, 2008; Joseph Kosuth, Clear words, Clear sight, 2007; Laurie Anderson, Neon Bow, 1980; Joseph Kosuth, W.F.T. #1 (yellow), 2008; Janet Burchill and Jennifer McCamley, Inland Empire (detail), 2008.

View of “NEON,” 2008. From left: Brendan Van Hek, White out/Black out, 2008; Joseph Kosuth, Clear words, Clear sight, 2007; Laurie Anderson, Neon Bow, 1980; Joseph Kosuth, W.F.T. #1 (yellow), 2008; Janet Burchill and Jennifer McCamley, Inland Empire (detail), 2008.

Sydney

“NEON”

Anna Schwartz Gallery | Sydney
245 Wilson Street
August 30–October 25, 2008

“NEON” is a compendium of neon in art ranging from Laurie Anderson’s famous Neon Bow, 1980, used in her early stage performances, to Lori Hersberger’s enormous neon-rectangle-and-shattered-glass installation Ghost Rider (Doors), 2008. Other works on view include Pierre Huyghe’s heartbreakingly simple but cryptic neon declaration I do not own Snow White, 2006, which evokes the chimera of the cartoon heroine at the same time as it ostensibly observes the Walt Disney Company’s ownership of that fictional character. Young Australian artist Brook Andrew’s Signal 2, 2008, consists of three dark, nearly illegible photographs screenprinted on cotton of Aboriginal people simulating copulation for an anthropologist’s camera; each has been overlaid by a neon strip, making the photographs even harder to decode. The show is dominated, however, by the proverbial shadow cast by long-term luminous-tube user Joseph Kosuth, whose W.F.T. #1 (yellow), 2008, a neon diagram enumerating a genealogy for a cluster of words connected with light, is as vast as this almost outlandish gallery space is dramatic. Anna Schwartz’s new Sydney venue, which opened in June with an equally overwhelming solo exhibition of photographs by Mike Parr, is one of the most enormous commercial galleries ever opened in Sydney. It is a portentous development for the local art world, and it may also present a terrifying prospect for Schwartz’s artists, as this show makes apparent that business as usual will not work here.