Critics’ Picks

View of “Scaffold Room,” 2014-2015.

View of “Scaffold Room,” 2014-2015.

New York

Ralph Lemon

The Kitchen
512 West 19th Street
October 30–December 5, 2015

In Ralph Lemon’s performance How Can You Stay In The House All Day And Not Go Anywhere?, 2010, he whispered, “love without rage is powerless.” In the more current work Scaffold Room, 2014-2015, love and rage are interrogated via readings, sculptures, and a lecture/performance/musical. Through the performances—which ended as of November 10—we experience the fullness of Lemon’s vision, a place where a vast catalogue of legibly dramatized gestures interact with unintelligible and visceral sounds, found film, and an assortment of ostensibly uncalculated movements.

For the exhibition period, Lemon invited a series of readers into a claustrophobic white room. On November 4, Fred Moten read Iceberg Slim’s sickening roman à clef Pimp (1967), focusing on the author’s scenes of dawn and of waking and sleeping. The corybantic lyricism of Slim’s language is heartrendingly inseparable from the abjectness of its depraved protagonist. Indeed, the audience becomes equally repulsed and complicit as Moten reads scenes of the pimp’s flagitious relationship with women.

Outside the white cube in the exhibition space, the spectral image of a real giraffe in the sculpture/video The Giraffe Dog House, 2015, echoes video footage of a child wearing a plush giraffe head from the performance. The choreographed actions within the white cube and black box spaces transmute the non-choreographed ones, much in the way that love and rage do throughout the varying temperatures of Lemon’s dizzyingly potent project.