HELLO New York
8 Sept - Oct 2001
Gavin Brown's Enterprise, 620 Greenwich Street, New York, NY - USA
"The average celebrity meets in one year ten times the amount of people the average person meets in his entire life," a dishevelled Jack Nicholson once sighed on the set of The Shining. Just how many people one meets through the years and how those meetings create a daisy chain of unexpected connections among people ranging from intimate friends to far-flung mass-media figures is the subject of Aleksandra Mir's Hello.
Mir has collected hundreds of photographs and arranged them in a single row that runs at eye level from the front door, through the gallery and into the back office, and out again to the front. Each image shows people posing together; one person from each photo appears in the one beside it, so every person turns out to be connected in some way. Opening the show, Liza Minnelli poses with Andy Warhol, who appears next Jack Nicholson, who meets Harry Dean Stanton; it isn't long before Pele enters the picture, alongside Elton John. Some connections are truly poetic, as pictures leap across genres, from family portraits to film and television stills and even classical bible scenes. Jesu show up not far from Rita Hayworth, who plays Salome, and Miss Piggy meets Harry Belafonte.
Most meaningfully, in the way suggested by Jack Nicholson, the icons here also meet ordinary individuals, whether in commercial shots or by happenstance. Thus the show feels as if it breathes, continuously expanding and contracting. The internationally famous are interspersed among the locally infamous, allowing the abstract air of pop culture to filter through the more concrete reality of commonplace scenes, and vice versa. One of the best effects of the show is how it drags viewers into the gallery's rear office, where they'll meet people from the gallery they'd never meet otherwise. All of the figures are intertwined, and the show comes full circle, ending as it began with a shot of Liza Minnelli.
Mir's idea is simple, as is the execution. But such simplicity here, like the word hello, opens upon a wide expanse of experience in which an epic is made out of the intimacy of snapshots.