new-york

Olav Westphalen

Maccarone

A onetime comedy writer and political cartoonist known for his absurdist disruptions—e.g., presenting the props from a remote-controlled dirigible race as an art installation—Olav Westphalen should be an artist we can count on in such harrowingly benumbing days as these. And, indeed, his brand of low-tech gallows humor was recently on view at Maccarone, in the form of two related series (both 2007–2008): “Waiting for the Barbarians”—whose title, presumably appropriated from J. M. Coetzee’s 1980 novel, was also shared by the exhibition itself—and “One Day.” Although dubbed a “twinned elegy for art and journalism” by Karen Rosenberg in the New York Times, Westphalen’s installation, composed of a sculpture and two suites of washy drawings, registered, to me anyway, as less an elegy than a coolly dispassionate admonition.

Ever the showman, Westphalen began his exhibition on the street—or in

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