Critics’ Picks

View of “OURS: Democracy in the Age of Branding,” 2008. From left: Liam Gillick, Revised Sochaux Structure, 2008; Ariel Orozco, Contrapeso, 2003; Hank Willis Thomas, Branded Head, 2003; Ashley Hunt, A World Map, In Which We See . . . , 2005; and Kota Ezawa, Hand Vote, 2008.

New York

“OURS: Democracy in the Age of Branding”

Anna-Maria and Stephen Kellen Gallery
66 Fifth Avenue at 13th
October 16–February 1

“OURS: Democracy in the Age of Branding” takes the rhetoric underlying US military campaigns in Iraq and elsewhere as its starting point and emphasizes the global dissemination of American ideologies through the lens of consumer culture. Curated by Carin Kuoni (with Marisa Olson organizing its Web component), the project goes beyond the traditional exhibition format to incorporate lectures, panels, workshops, and other related events. Central to the participatory dimension of the project is Liam Gillick’s Revised Sochaux Structure, 2008, wherein four identical circular red benches serve as places for artists and visitors to engage in discussions. Of the other forty-one artists included in the show, Yael Bartana and Runo Lagomarsino call on not only the attention of the viewer for their politically driven works but also their recent workshops with New School design students. Bartana offers a reenactment of a game used in her 2005 video Wild Seeds, which evokes Israel’s forced removal of Jewish settlers from occupied Palestinian territories, and Lagomarsino presents If You Don’t Know What the South Is, It’s Simply Because You Are from the North, 2008, a site-specific sculpture that addresses the geographic division of wealth in modern times.

Other significant works on view are Sharon Hayes’s My Fellow Americans 1981–1988, 2004–2006, and Carlos Motta’s The Good Life, 2005–2008, which make explicit the value system of American policies and their impact on the world at large. The former consists of video footage of a nine-and-a-half-hour performance in which Hayes reads Ronald Reagan’s thirty-six “Address to the Nation” speeches in a neutral tone. The latter is an online archive of interviews conducted by Motta with inhabitants of twelve South American metropolises about the perception of the US-led interventions in the region, among other topics. Brilliantly balancing socially committed and allegorical works, “OURS” also critically examines democratic practices as both historical constructs and contemporary enterprises.