New York

“Role Exchange”

Sean Kelly Gallery

“Role Exchange,” a group show exploring the theme of adopted personae in the art of the past three decades, demonstrated that an exhibition is not always greater than, or even equal to, the sum of its parts. If such were the case, this all-star lineup of often inspired works by twenty-seven exceptional artists would have been the hit of the season. Instead, it was largely a lackluster academic exercise that sparkled in spite of, rather than because of, its curatorial ambitions.

The exhibition’s title was borrowed from Marina Abramović’s performance at Amsterdam’s De Appel in 1975. Abramović found a local prostitute who had been plying her trade for ten years—the same amount of time that Abramović had been working as an artist. During the opening of her show, Abramović and the woman switched places for four hours. In an accompanying text outlining the performance’s parameters, Abramović

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