Critics’ Picks

Julia Brown, The Young Mothers Project, Part I, 2014, HD video, color, sound, 11 minutes 4 seconds.

Julia Brown, The Young Mothers Project, Part I, 2014, HD video, color, sound, 11 minutes 4 seconds.

New York

“The Intricacies of Love”

305 E 140th Street #1A
March 16–April 15, 2017

As children, we are the freest, most uninhibited versions of ourselves that we will ever be. Life has yet to mold us into self-conscious “grown-ups,” limply following decorum, jaded by bullshit. This three-person exhibition looks askance at adulthood and the dynamics between kids and their surroundings. Julia Brown’s dual-channel video The Young Mothers Project, Part I and Part II, 2014, present different versions of the same world. In Part I, a steady camera is pointed at a single mother seated in her living room, talking about the struggles of parenthood, while her daughter restlessly fidgets on her lap. In a memorable section of Part II, we experience the world as seen through the eyes of mother and daughter, both of whom were given a camera by the artist to record a typical Friday night at home. The daughter’s camera races from the floor, to mom, to the drawings on the fridge—the constant motion is a reminder of the boundless curiosity and enthusiasm that fuel children to explore.

Glenn Ligon’s End of Year Reports, 2003, eight screen prints on handmade paper, are reproductions of documents found in his mother’s apartment—evaluations of the artist completed by his teachers when he was an adolescent. They certainly seem prescient—Ligon is described as a young man dismissive of authority figures and as someone who is “cunning” and who “can be very loud when he wants to make a point.”

Over at the gallery’s annex a few blocks away, John Waters gives us a remake of his 1972 cinematic trashfest, Pink Flamingos. For the video, named Kiddie Flamingos, 2014, children are seated at a long table, eccentrically dressed up like the film’s characters, taking turns reading the much-edited script aloud. The piece’s strength lies in the actors’ over-animated performances and the knowledge that the original source’s perversity has been cleverly camouflaged.