New York

Glen Fogel, With You . . . Me, 2014–18, seven-channel synchronized video (color, sound, 12 minutes 40 seconds), LED lighting, solid-state relay, custom benches. Photo: Charles Benton.

Glen Fogel, With You . . . Me, 2014–18, seven-channel synchronized video (color, sound, 12 minutes 40 seconds), LED lighting, solid-state relay, custom benches. Photo: Charles Benton.

Glen Fogel

JTT

On the day my parents moved out of the London house in which I grew up—I was in my twenties and had already moved away for college, but still thought of it as home—I realized with a jolt that I had precious little documentation of the place. In something close to panic, I grabbed my camcorder and made a rapid, tearful circuit of the place, by then mostly stripped of furniture and other belongings, but still infused with years of memories. I may still have the tape somewhere; I’ve certainly never watched it.

To make the multichannel video With You . . . Me, 2014–18, the centerpiece of Glen Fogel’s exhibition here, the artist performed a similar ritual with his family home in Denver, but added (as one might have expected) many layers of sophistication, something my own purely sentimental project lacked. Fogel made this tour of his family’s soon-to-be-demolished property, which fills seven abutted screens, using a gyroscopic robotic device, a piece of kit that lends the resulting imagery a cold, surveillance-like appearance. As the gadget (never itself revealed) moves through the empty interior, we watch lights ticking on to reveal, room by room, a collection of largely contemporary, and generic, fixtures and fittings.

At moments the work begins to resemble a real-estate show reel. However, some unexpected scape or stylistic incongruity will make itself known, and a glimmer of individual family life will show through. In one particularly affecting shot, a small cluster of dim lights against a dark ground turns out to be a constellation of stick-on, glow-in-the-dark stars, a dead giveaway of a childhood bedroom. These ephemeral decorations now await the building’s end like real cosmic matter on the brink of some far-off catastrophe.

Followers of Fogel’s art may glean from the work’s title that it was conceived as a companion piece to an earlier video, With Me . . . You, 2011, in which he used a gyroscopic device to set engagement rings belonging to his relatives spinning against a set of colorful backdrops. In the new work, the mechanically even movements of the camera, its creeping pans and tilts, serve only to emphasize the contrast between busy, messy, everyday living and eventual, inevitable, disappearance and loss.

A suite of six small, precise pencil drawings in this show, First Love as Drawn by Second Love, 2018, also represents a meditation on the journey from childhood to adulthood through (mediated) visual relics. The works depict Fogel’s first boyfriend, Lucas, in a variety of settings—sitting on a stoop, standing against a fence, even leaning on a piece of public sculpture. Rendered by another ex, artist Benjamin Kress, the pieces are based on photographs taken by Fogel for his subject’s senior high school yearbook. Just as the pictures of the house in With You . . . Me are characterized by a mix of controlled formality and unguarded emotion, so the portraits of Lucas show a young man adopting by-the-book poses while remaining wholly, sweetly individual. And here too, there’s a precisely judged layering of cool and hot, objective procedure and heartrending result, which underscores the power of imagery—however convoluted the method of bringing it into being—as a container and transmitter of all things human.

Michael Wilson