new-york

Sue Coe

Galerie St. Etienne

Granted, the world is a rotten, inhumane place. Blacks are oppressed and brutalized, the meat industry manipulates us almost as much as the military-industrial complex, and the United States is a neofascist aggressor; yet it is not the message in Sue Coe’s art that interests me. All of her characteristic complaints would be propagandistic dross if it wasn’t for her visionary esthetic, which eloquently conveys the suffering she is at bottom obsessed with. This esthetic recapitulates the expressionist sense of abysmal space; uncomprehending human beings are dropped into its infinity, where they blindly act out their squalid little dramas. This black void represents Coe’s unconscious fatalism as much as it does her consciousness of social violence. Sometimes the scenes are Hieronymus Bosch–like, as in US. Successfully Bombs Mental Hospital in Grenada, 1984. At other times they have a quality

Sign-in to keep reading

Artforum print subscribers have full access to this article. If you are a subscriber, sign in below.

Not registered for artforum.com? Register here.

SUBSCRIBE NOW for only $50 a year—65% off the newsstand price—and get the print magazine plus full online access to this issue and our archive.*

Order the ONLINE EDITION for $5.99.

* This rate applies to U.S. domestic subscriptions.