New York

Jon Kessler

P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center

In the twilight of empire, in the spider hole where the masters of the universe have gone to ground with their simulacral weapons, reality gives way to violent phantasmagoria. This is not news. But it was the scenario described by Jon Kessler’s multiroom installation at P.S. 1 Contemporary Art Center, The Palace at 4 A.M., 2005, and it packed a wallop, its physically overwhelming formal properties synced tightly with the simple, lonely rage that was its subject.

Kessler’s first solo museum show in New York was also his largest show to date, filling a high-ceilinged hall and its side galleries. The title comes from Alberto Giacometti’s 1932 sculpture, which looks like an abstracted desk toy. Kessler retained its atmosphere of idle amusement in the king’s dreamtime. But his expanded scale turned playfulness to nightmare. Billboards obstructed the main gallery’s entrances, and the space was

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