new-york

Terry Allen

John Weber Gallery

America is a sick place and Terry Allen knows it. Big Witness (living in wishes), 1988, consists of a prostrate figure lying in a cage within a cage, trying to knock himself out with some New Age self-help tapes. The installation is underlit with red, green, and blue lights, giving the otherwise sterile structure the atmosphere of an abandoned disco in some depressed Midwestern Holiday Inn. The self-help tapes being played are embedded in the giant’s body. Smarmy Muzak accompanies even smarmier discourse. Some paternalistic, New-Age asshole drones on and on about how to obliterate any resistance or ambivalence toward the American Dream, the American Way, and the American brand of success. Not content to leave us alone in our abjection, the voice on the tape tells us to be happy and cheerful. If we are stressed-out or feel anxiety, it says, we have no one to blame but ourselves. The voice

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