Critics’ Picks

Installation view, 2006.

Installation view, 2006.


Tom Burr and Jack Pierson

Galerie Neu | Mehringdamm
Mehringdamm 72
December 1, 2006–January 1, 2007

Sometimes encounters turn into collaborations. Artists Tom Burr and Jack Pierson first met in New York in the early '90s, when, at a Musty Chiffon performance, the legendary dealer Pat Hearn told Burr about Pierson’s desire to photograph him. Thus began a somewhat timid and intricate dialogue, a fascinating reflection of which is now on view in this exhibition. Each artist has produced a series of works as a portrait, or perhaps a response, to the other, and the show presents two very different understandings of what a portrait can mean. Burr portrays Pierson through three sculptural objects that either refer to specific early works, such as Pierson’s postglamour installation series “Silver Jackie” (though the cigarette butts are missing), or indicate personal history that could also be universal: A black plywood runway with railings is an effective platform for artfully discarded trousers, shoes, and a shirt. A vanity on long, small feet, whose wooden parts have been replaced by silvery vintage mirror plates and which is crowned by a perfectly round adjustable mirror, is outstanding: elegant, amusing, pretty. How could (well-known) considerations about (homo)sexuality, gender construction, camp interests, and the queering of sculpture be better imagined? Pierson contributes, among other works, a set of Cocteau-like drawn portrayals of young men, made with charcoal on gessoed canvas.

A small booklet documents the artists’ search for concepts of reciprocal portrayal, shot through with documentation of various failed meetings and interruptions. The challenge, met with significant success in the show, was to find an apposite form for an exceptional encounter.