Monday, March 14, 2016

Two Actually, Really, Very, Good Shows - Nancy Lupo, Swiss Institute and Phillipe Parreno, Gladstone Gallery

Nancy Lupo


Nancy Lupo, Parent and Parroting - Swiss Institute

This is probably the best piece I have seen in a really long time. Lupo makes sculptures out of everyday things more the things that no one really pays attention to in this case it is racks that are usually used for under-the-sink storage. Here they are set up in a “U” formation to evoke a human mouth and in that ‘mouth’ is an abundance of things.

These things are not just a spilling of messiness but rather trinkets and ornaments that give off a waft of the ritual and a touch of magic. Dental floss is tightly weaved in between the rack’s rib like arms. Baskets and stacks of oranges look like they are about to move assembly line style in the aqueduct like tubes, toilet paper is slung over the sides like sashays or a grocery list. There is more and more debris and junk-drawer like things that decorate, slyly reside or simply inhabit these fascinating kitty litter encrusted racks and they all feel so right.

The touch that Lupo has in making this work is supported by how it is installed as well. Located in the basement space, which might feel ungenerous, allows the work to be a singular piece and this placement fits with the overt yet transformed unremarkableness of the materials she uses. The exhibition space also has generic white plastic chairs that face the sculpture like some sort of waiting room, which makes the space feel even more tertiary. All this dullness heightens the magic that is effervescing from this piece, which feels strange, light, charming, and freaky all at once.


Phillipe Parreno, IF THIS THEN ELSE – Gladstone Gallery

This is a two-location affair and I only saw the show on 21st Street and I am very very excited to trek up to Gladstone’s 64th Street location to see the other component of the show. 

What is happening on 21st Street is a video work entitled Li-Yan (2016). It’s a Big, BadAss video work that engulfs you. It’s very dark the room and the imageryit’s very loud, the speakers and sounds boom and buzz your insides. Without knowing there were two shows and what it was all about, the video nevertheless sucked me in. It has a towering feeling and it is images of a park, of a street, a bench, a puddle, that are all vague but are actually in New York (the World’s Fair Globe tips you off). The scenes are vacant but the lighting is blue, dramatic, icy. There is a women walking, solitary, her heeled footsteps seem to be a metronome of some narrative that you’re not sure you are supposed to witness. The images have a circularity, not in their edits but in their composition. The sound and the images seem to be concentric and you are a part of that epicenter splash and the quite caused in the moment it/you/the thing breaks under the surface.

There is also a feeling of coldness, of wind, of some sort of shift in temperature. This feeling was made even more astonishing after reading the press release and being informed that there is another part of this show uptown and in that show there is a bioreactor anticipating rhythms and that in turn alters the space and is connected to and adjusts what is on view in the 21st street space.

It is an eerie and stunning thing when a work does something so thoroughly and is so complex even when the viewer (me) is being a lazy participant. Although I have only seen half of this show I am really, really, really excited to see the other half and then to see this part all over again and then to see if it still gives me chills, even though now I know I am supposed to be having them.