Critics’ Picks

View of  “The Haas Brothers: King Dong Come,” 2016–17.

View of “The Haas Brothers: King Dong Come,” 2016–17.

New York

The Haas Brothers

R & Company | 64 White Street
64 White Street
November 15, 2016–January 5, 2017

What if paradise wasn’t just for the individual—what if we could all go together, hand in hand? This seems to be the proposition of the Haas Brothers’ “King Dong Come.” The exhibition takes the form of a static zoo populated by puckered-mouth amphorae and doll-size snow beasts, but the atmosphere is that of an erotic party. Hand-thrown vases from their “Father” series (all works 2016) try sucking each other off, while yetis—such as Jessica Yang and Dick Drake—admire their own silver sex organs, teeth, and toenails. The shelves lined with shaggy creatures bring to mind a cartoon strip of Noah’s Ark—the original apocalypse parable.

Like Noah and his ark story, “King Dong Come” roots itself in a kind of cosmic virility. The animals aren’t going two by two, but there is an inescapable sense of infinite reproduction. The beasts multiply in the second room, where a nine-foot-tall monster, King Dong, holds court. His leg is extended to visitors like a mall Santa’s or some benevolent prophet’s.

A fittingly psychedelic fantasy for these dystopian times, the show seeks a more harmonious relationship between objects, nature, and people, introducing a model for utopia defined by openness and humor. Shangri La is not only within reach, but it is soft and fuzzy. In Bruno Latour’s 2004 article “Why Has Critique Run out of Steam? From Matters of Fact to Matters of Concern,” the philosopher writes: “The critic is not the one who debunks, but the one who assembles. The critic is not the one who lifts the rugs from under the feet of the naïve believers, but the one who offers the participants arenas in which to gather.” With “King Dong Come,” the Haas Brothers have created a temporary sanctuary in which to dwell on our collective dreams, and nightmares, of the future.