Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Fear Eats the Soul

Went to Gavin Brown in the hailing snow (in spring?) this afternoon as per Jerry Saltz. Disappointed to report that I didn't find any food. I was hungry. Stores and food will be available for visitors from Thurs-Sat. The snow got me all mixed up today, is Wednesday.
Don’t miss Rirkit Tiravanija’s paradigm-rocking tour de force of institutional critique, “Relational Aesthetics,” the disruption of the chain of command, spatial politics, and time-shifting. Tiravanija (pronounced Tear-ah-van-ee-jah) has removed all the windows and doors from Gavin Brown’s gallery, so there’s no difference between outside and inside. The gallery is open or exposed 24 hours a day. People can go in and do whatever they want whenever they want to. The windows, window- and doorframes, and associated hardware are spread out on the gallery floor and leaned against the walls. Spray-painted in big, bold floor-to-ceiling black letters on the walls is the title of a Fassbinder film, Fear Eats the Soul. Around the gallery are dirt, stools, and picnic benches at wooden tables. There are also two plywood rooms that turn out to be time machines of a sort: Both are exact replicas of Brown’s first tiny Broome Street gallery, opened in 1994. In one, Tiravanija has installed a ghost doppelgänger of his 1994 show there, only this time, everything is made of silver-glazed ceramic. A ceramic Warhol Mao sits next to a stack of empty Rolling Rock bottles, a clay Warhol Brillo Box near one of Tiravanija’s woks. In the other simulated gallery is a shop where you can pay $20 and have attendants make you a T-shirt bearing a slogan like “The Days of this Society is Numbered,” “Rich Bastards Beware,” or “Out Now.” These spaces are open Thursdays through Saturday. So is a working “Soup Kitchen” where Tiravanija and other guest chefs cook food and give it away for free to anyone who stops by.
What makes all this so good — other than the free food (even better than at the art fairs!), the selflessness, the turning of space inside out, the way in which visitors are subtly transformed from being passive viewers to active participants, the tangible ways Tiravanija bridges mind-body splits, and the breaching of private and public barriers — is the lithe feeling of being in touch with the spirits of self-actualization that triggered such enormous growth in the art world in the early nineties. To me, Tiravanija is the George Washington and Johnny Appleseed of the Relational Aesthetics movement. He is a medicine-man artist who not only invented this rangy way of making identity politics, metaphysics, and the gravitational forces of Warhol’s Factory spring to life. He creates a social-conceptual-sculptural field whereby new systems are created and the artist displaces the traditional functions of a gallery and rejoins them with real life-Jerry Saltz

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