new-york

Jon Kessler

Luhring Augustine | Chelsea

Jon Kessler’s theatrical son-et-lumière contraptions do not advance theses; they are not, even in today’s loose parlance, “conceptual.” Though many of his works include elements that allude to technology, TV, sci-fi, and kitsch, it would be a serious mistake to locate their earnest gee-whiz tone within the media and commodity discourses that dominated art practice in the ’80s. To suggest that, because Kessler relies on mechanical apparatuses in his works, they are hence “about” technology, the myth of progress, or the postindustrial era would be fatuous—rather like saying that because Bernini used marble his sculptures must be about geology. Kessler deploys his special effects either as displays of wit or as incitements to reverie.

For all its old-fashioned, antiquey charm, the lumbering, complicated-looking dinosaur Arts et Métiers (Arts and sciences, 1989), which features, among other

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