Aleksandra Mir

Hiding In The Light

The New York Times, New York, Feb 2006
By Ken Johnson

Hiding In The Light
12 Jan - 25 Feb 2006
Mary Boone Gallery, 541 West 24th street, New York, NY - USA

These days you often find art galleries operating less like spaces of aesthetic contemplation and more like theaters of multimedia distraction. This may be an annoying development for people who value the unique artistic object, but such productions can be interesting and entertaining, if not always inspiring. Take, for example, two shows organized by outside curators at Mary Boone's two locations.

In the uptown space, "I Love My Scene," the first of three shows to be orchestrated by José Freire, owner and director of Team Gallery in Chelsea, is congested and puzzlingly eclectic.

It includes glowing photographs of movie stars and fashion models by Cecil Beaton; gritty images of accident and murder victims by the photojournalist Weegee; and contemporary drawings resembling antique architectural studies by Pablo Bronstein. Three large sculptures dominate the room: a heavy aluminum and neon work by Keith Sonnier; a Neo-Goth semi-abstraction featuring a seemingly charred three-dimensional grid, by Banks Violette; and, by Lothar Hempel, an arrangement on a revolving platform of a wrecked bicycle, a red lantern and a portentous, apparently satirical video.

The show's assortment of works may seem arbitrary and opaque at first, but then relationships of opposites emerge — high and low, industrial and surreal, futuristic and historical — making for a complex whole that is different, if not necessarily greater than, the sum of its parts.

The more compelling exhibition is the one in Chelsea, organized by the critic and curator Neville Wakefield. "Hiding in the Light" can be read as a commentary about avoiding reality. Rudolf Stingel has covered the floor of the main exhibition space with sheets of mirror-bright aluminum, turning the room into something like a disco or a fancy boutique. Jeff Koons's bronze cast of a small inflatable rowboat floats nicely in one corner, and a glittering curtain of beaded threads stretched floor to ceiling by Carol Bove enhances the cheesy theatricality.

Videos by Candice Breitz systematically sample performances by Hollywood stars to absurd effect, while a block of text painted in a cartoon style by Larry Johnson projects the voice of a harried, extremely self-absorbed celebrity. Flamboyant pictorial flourishes are added by Amy Gartrell's luridly colored Goth-Pop paintings and Aleksandra Mir's enormous hand-drawn maps of the United States satirizing old-fashioned patriotic banners. Andy Warhol's screen-test portraits from the 1960's, projected in the gallery's foyer, perfectly introduce this finely tuned vision of narcissistic oblivion. KEN JOHNSON