New York

Allan McCollum

Petzel Gallery | West 18th Street

Allan McCollum once asserted that a typical viewer’s relationship to a work of art is predicated on the desire “to be in on things at the source, to be involved in the Primal Scene, not out in the hall looking through the keyhole.” It is, however, precisely out in the metaphoric hall that McCollum has established an outpost, basing his oeuvre on the ways in which fantasies of immersion play themselves out in the fetishistic production, circulation, and consumption of art and other symbolic objects. His best-known series, the “Surrogate Paintings,” from 1978, and the related “Plaster Surrogates,” begun in 1982, made this point explicit, rendering a generic idea of “painting” as so many interchangeable props: theatrical effects designed to represent representation while unmasking those scripts that determine the cultural significance of things.

McCollum’s most recent exhibition also marked

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