Critics’ Picks

Sreshta Rit Premnath, Monere Manure, 2006, mixed media, dimensions variable.

New York

“Spectral Evidence”

Rotunda Gallery
33 Clinton Street
January 17–March 3

Terry Adkins has hung a black-and-white replica of W. E. B. DuBois’s '30s-era flag proclaiming A MAN WAS LYNCHED YESTERDAY at the entrance to “Spectral Evidence.” Named for a type of testimony made legal during the Salem witch trials, the show overcomes a somber theme and palette to present varied responses to the politics of disappearance. Chitra Ganesh and Mariam Ghani’s postcards of epigrams and political statements, such as THIS IS NO TIME FOR COMPROMISE, range from whimsical to heavy-handed. Less text-oriented are Lana Lin and H. Lan Thao Lam’s twenty-four abstract photos and accompanying video that both aestheticize and demystify Vietnam’s propaganda archives. Walead Beshty’s X-ray Picture, 2006, provides the exhibition’s hint of color, a purplish-yellow impression made on film by an airport’s screening machine. Sreshta Rit Premnath’s collection of images taped backward and canvases stacked against the wall mimics a Swiss group’s attempted reconstruction of the Bamiyan Buddhas that were bombed in Afghanistan, derailing their approximation of authenticity. Although the overtly political text running across the show’s walls is distracting, the rest of the work quietly inserts itself into state-issued imaginaries, evocative and unfinished.