Critics’ Picks

Pepo Salazar, 
– zçrwaq ¡’
¡
¡’0,
2015, mixed media, dimensions variable.

Pepo Salazar,
– zçrwaq ¡’
¡
¡’0
,
2015,
mixed media, dimensions variable.

Paris

Pepo Salazar

GALERIE JOSEPH TANG
1 rue Charles-François Dupuis Building B, 2nd Floor
October 22–December 5, 2015

Punctuated by interruptions—synthetic iPhone and Skype jingles bleating from an amp in the corner, a metal bar planted just inside the gallery door assuring an awkward entrance, another bisecting the gallery horizontally at mid-torso—Pepo Salazar’s exhibition reproduces a distracted delirium we know all too well. Sure, there’s relaxing ukulele chords strumming from the video installation, Hashtag me please, #Zzz,zzz (excitotoxicity pro-performance cascade). Two yellow faces (all works 2015). But these abruptly break off into aggro ads and pop anthems, just like your favorite streaming service. The flatscreen that these beats emanate from is painted white except for a cloyingly cheery emoticon. Putting on a good face only goes so far.

The rest of the gallery is occupied by an installation whose multiline title is generated, the show’s poster seems to suggest, by the incidental keystrokes produced when wiping down a keyboard. In it, failures to maintain a proper appearance multiply: A molten-looking plastic suitcase carcass chock-full of charred dietary supplements lies on the ground. Large, parabolic white panels seem to melt off the surrounding gallery walls, the architecture itself requiring braces to keep it together. Lodged in one of the metal scaffolding joints is an ibuprofen lozenge. One might want for something stronger: It’s a mere palliative, as anti-inflammatories do nothing to address the underlying causes of discomfort. To his credit, the artist doesn’t make any of this terribly photogenic. Rather, there’s a negativity behind the slapstick gestures, as with the ratty gray hoodie hanging in the corridor outside the gallery, the words “working uniform” inscribed in black pen on its neckline. Against the imperative to always look good and function properly, one senses Salazar’s affinity for the old Bartleby retort: “I would prefer not to.”