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Sharon Hayes, Symbionese Liberation Army (SLA) Screeds #13, 16, 20 & 29 (detail), 2003, four-channel video installation, color, sound, 9, 10, 20, and 15 minutes, respectively.

Sharon Hayes

Whitney Museum of American Art

Sharon Hayes, Symbionese Liberation Army (SLA) Screeds #13, 16, 20 & 29 (detail), 2003, four-channel video installation, color, sound, 9, 10, 20, and 15 minutes, respectively.

Sharon Hayes’s ambitious show was set amid wooden dividers, platforms, and stair-units. Designed by Hayes and her frequent collaborator Andrea Geyer, the mise-en-scène was a cross between speaker’s corner, radical-history library, and trade fair—mixed, of course, with major-museum exhibition. (The show was curated by Chrissie Iles.) Hayes’s art, here as in the past decade, explores oratory, confession, re-performance, and the erotics of public talk. We need all the intelligence we can muster on such subjects, and hers is considerable. Still, results were mixed.

Arriving visitors were confronted by a huge curtain blocking off the installation. A slogan was printed on it: NOW A CHASM HAS OPENED BETWEEN US THAT HOLDS US TOGETHER AND KEEPS US APART. This seemed coy, or canned, as did the words on a second banner: MY MEMORY TRANSLATES EVERYTHING INTO SOMETHING ELSE. It’s complicated,

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