Monday, March 21, 2011

JstChillin : Read/Write : 319 Scholes : Brooklyn, NY & Rirkrit Tiravanija : Fe ar Eats the Soul : Gavin Brown Enterprises : New York, NY

JstChillin is a project formed by Caitlin Denny and Parker Ito apparently from an unsuccessful Rhizome program bid, but anyways, it exists. This show includes the works of artists who use the internet and its many devices as their primary medium and who have contributed to afore mentioned project. The exhibition is housed in a converted warehouse in Bushwick that gave it a nice off the tracks sort of feel at first glance. Nothing was confirmed or diminished by this show but the idea that, hey this is what internet art looks and feels like, seems to be boringly confirmed.

There was just a lot of stuff hung and placed and tucked everywhere. Considerations of installation and presentation were obviously attempted but somehow with poor results. Maybe it’s too hard to “exhibit” a butt load of internet artists at one time. Maybe. The fact that this show had a title suggests that there was a specific theme but it appears to have devolved into a more “fuck it” attitude.

This is a very close network of people and they rightfully, like all others, have affections for including their peers. I too am at fault for being partial as the works I was most engaged in were by artists I knew, even if barely. This is the problem and also a perk of this sort of art, it requires more from the viewer, it requires an accumulated knowledge and dialogue of that particular artist but once you get whatever that may be, things become flat and smooth and interesting.


Rirkrit Tiravanija’s current show at Gavin Brown’s self isolated space is entitled Fear Eats The Soul
. This title is like a brand, an Adbuster bumper sticker also available as spray paint stencil. The title, from the press release (which is an actual hoot and a perfect example of “press-releasy”) says it’s from Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s Ali: Fear Eats The Soul. This is actually one of my favorite Fassbinder movies. This movie is totally kick ass and sexy and sad and drama in the sharp colors and silent contrasts sort of way. Tiravanija’s version is meh in comparison and, I think, highly audacious for such cultural branding.

Oh yes, I forgot to mention what this show’s main thing is about; it’s about providing free soup Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays 10-6pm for the duration of the show. The menu changes every week. This was the first they had a vegetarian soup. It was pumpkin, it was spicy, it was very delicious. Besides it being yummy to eat, I was still not convinced of it all. Food makes people nicer, its one of the very few things we can do that reveals we are animals in the presence of more then just yourself, one other, and if you’re into it, two people. It is sensory, basic and when done right, divine. The use of food as artistic device to upend and dissolve structures of the art world, of the gallery, of human beings is stupendous, but to me, boring. I think that there is nothing more obvious then this and it may appear I am being a boo-hooer, but I’m not, honestly. I get the wonderfulness, the simplicity and the possibilities of this method of art deconstruction, yada yada, but I can’t help but feel unmoved. Especially since the installation was a lot of spray-painted psedo street cred heavy handedness.

In addition to this faux grit, there were the two rooms; one with Helvetica angst phrases being silk screened on white t-shirts ($20 a pop) being plucked and selected by gentlemen who were actually wearing cravats! And then there is Gavin Brown himself in a room of wonderfully sellable bronze works (Tiravanija’s tap tap to be same samey with Warhol) greeting you with the friendliest “hello!” uttered by a gallery owner’s lips. I think it is all just fine. The serving of the food feels sincere, the soup was very delicious and although it was a nice way to pass some time on a sunny New York afternoon it left less tingle in my little soul then when I happened, on leaving the gallery, to pass a tour group who was being shown the house from the Cosby Show.