Monday, June 9, 2014

Darren, Darren, Darren Bader

Darren Bader, Andrew Kreps Gallery, 2014
Darren Bader currently has a show at Andrew Kreps Gallery and the show is a show about three shows.  The press release explains this. The press release is short.  So short I’m going to include it below:

The show is three shows: a show on the walls, Photographs I Like; a show on the floor, To Have and to Hold; and a show on a piece of paper at the front desk.

Darren Bader lives and works in New York. This is his second solo show at the gallery. His work is currently included in the Whitney Biennial, on view until May 25th. Among previous exhibitions: Empire State, Palazzo delle Esposizioni, Rome (2013), Images, MoMA PS1, New York (solo), Oh, You Mean Cellophane and all that Crap, The Calder Foundation, New York (2012). Darren Bader is the recipient of the 2013 Calder Foundation's Calder Prize.

The bio section seems a bit insisted by the gallery because in this show the ambiguity of it is the form and in the form of it you get lost in the ambiguity but then with all that ambiguity you get some sort of clarity and in that clarity you see what it is that Bader is doing.  Maybe.  Sort of.  But regardless, back to the show. 

The show is great.  Now that you know what my opinion is, we can proceed. (Or not, your choice.) The show is things on the wall, things on the floor and paper things you can read and take with you.

What are on the walls are photographs, and with the title, Photographs I Like, it is just that very thing.  Photographs that Darren Bader likes on walls.  It is more then that though.  Bader is a writer.  A good writer.  The type of writer where it is form and not just function.  There is a print out that expresses in his own words what a photograph means to him, for example:

“The photographic image is the closest to “pure image” we have short of our in-built optics. Perhaps that’s why the photograph scared the shit out of art when it first showed up. Perhaps that’s why it still scares the shit out of iconoclastic image-makers.” 

There are also larger statements on ‘art’ and the bigger structure of image making.  Reading it before seeing the show had nice effect although it was quickly absorbed and forgotten.

The photographs range from fashion, celebrity, politics, mood genres, and the evolution of that medium.  They are the originals.  What you see is the actual thing.  These are not reproductions.  They possessed that quality even before I asked the question to the gallery.  There is something clever, to the point, meaningful regarding them being originals.  Some are on loan, some you know are very famous and are a part of our, American visual lexi-canonical.  Some are on consignment, thus meaning you can buy it if you want it and you can afford it.  That work is then yours but it is not a ‘Darren Bader’ it is a work you bought by the artist who made it not Bader who arranged them into a room, into a show, into another form of art. 

On the floor is an assortment of objects.  Things you buy online, things you buy at big box stores, things that are fancy, things that you don’t know what exactly it is.  Some things are tiny, throw away, you will probably step on it if you don’t look down a lot.  Some things are large, air sealed chambers, cement domes with eroded holes.  These objects are important.  Of course they are.  Everything is important, everything has meaning, everything is everything here.  There is a pressure in this type of art but there is also a wink-wink of knowing this and it makes you a conceptual scavenger. 

This floor section is called To Have and To Hold, and it also has a piece of paper that expresses the work and what they function as/have the potential to function as.  It is a guidebook, a step-by-step of what to do, think about with these objects on the floor. 


1. Live with the object.

2. After a year or so of living with the it, inquire into its origin. This could mean tracing it back to the source(s) of all its component parts*. This could also mean imagining its source(s) as other than those of the physical aggregate achieved by man or nature.  Either way, a dedicated inquiry is recommend.

7. If you die, the number of collected identical objects should not diminish while dead.  Any bequests should make note of this. If 02 has been chosen, a bequest can reflect this format.

The objects create a maze. A well placed maze.  Like all of Bader’s installations there is a precision to arbitrariness and this folks is what makes this sort of thing work.

The last part of the show is a text or maybe it’s an accumulation of text; this text and the other texts.  This, I will leave unquoted so that it endeavors you to go out and see the show and read it for yourself. 

Darren Bader fits a place in art that seems like an island of sorts.  He has a self-awareness of himself, of art, of the art world that is refreshing and also sad in that awareness.  He is smart, young, male, funny, bright, interesting, rare.  He is not a ‘bad boy,’ but some like to flip him aside as one.  He reminds me of the character of the fool in Shakespeare’s plays, etc.  You know the person who is the jester but actually knows what is really going on and sees the truth of things.  Maybe that’s a stretch but all I know is that after seeing his show I felt clear, grounded, and mildly proud he is of my age. 

What is more telling then just the success of a show, an artist’s idea actualized in space and people having access to that space to actualize this actualization is that it seems people are panging for this sort of art.  Not in exact form but in spirit.  This open, invested, unsure yet confident type of work that accomplishes the thing of making aesthetics but also reflects, mines, and places the visual, cultural, metaphysical, and spiritual with meaning, alignment and concern to humans, an artist, a time. 

To close out, I am going to quote Bader once again.  It’s from a essay he wrote of his show, more like an aside but really nice to read. 

“Let me spin it this way . . . art is commonly intuited as a home for the poetic. There is enough evidence of technical-cum-aesthetic skill in a wide variety of fields to safely say that there are some good “poets” out there. Mediocrity is normal, but good poetry is what matters.”