“Art at the Edge of the Law”

The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum

The fact that artists respond to and intervene against legal structures is not exactly groundbreaking news; the mores of legalistic bourgeois societies—and the transgression of them—have been central (if not the central) subjects of art since earliest modernism. Today even the least engagé abstractionist operates against a cultural backdrop littered with agitprop, and a number of recent and not-so-recent censorship cases still rankle. Thus, to make their show compelling, Aldrich assistant director Richard Klein and associate curator Jessica Hough faced two imperatives: They needed to focus sharply on which themes and practices “the edge of the law” might delimit, and they had to pick very strong work. For the most part, they succeeded.

The twenty-four artists and groups of artists represented have evolved in a Duchampian universe where parodic absurdity and its potential for eliciting

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