Monday, July 16, 2018

Jasper Spicero, The Glady Day

Currently on view at the Times Square Space is Jasper Spicero’s exhibition The Glady Day. I had heard that he had a show up in New York somewhere but I’ve been apt to keep things off my radar of late so I was pleasantly pleased to find that it was a few floors down from another totally unrelated visit in the same building.

What is this place? Was the first thought that came to mind when entering the building that is right smack dab in the middle of the cultural/consumer hellscape that is Times Square. It is the expected architectural expression of steel, glass, AC and corporatized sterility and polish. The show is on the 11th floor and there are student workers that card scan you up and down the elevators.

What is this place? Is asked again when you arrive on the 11th floor. It is exactly what you think a floor in this type of building would look like. Grey, blue, carpeted office space, which is both non-descript and non-offensive. The rooms’ layout and pre-fab design remain intact and inside the rooms there are sculptures, objects, and arrangements of what may be called moments. Some are empty. Some are vaguely taped shut so you can only look from outside in. You think, ‘institution,’ very quickly by the impact resistant meshed glass, the slightly low height of the space and the carpeted muffling of sound.

The vacancy in the space is permeating; perhaps stifling at points and that is sharply contrasted by the views outside which are the ghastly overabundance of tourism. The bareness and quietness in the rooms and the objects feel like things left behind. Like when one moves out of a space and means to get what was left behind but somehow forgets or doesn’t bother to. Themes and colors are repeated in the works as well. Blues, birds, things made of wood, and fabric all interlock and create visual and narrative repetitions.

In addition to the works in the rooms, there is the central brain of the show, the video The Glady Day that is about a boy and presents a third party observational witnessing to a form of therapy. The video was made with Wills Baker (who also co-curated the show with Tiffany Zubludowicz) and is supposed to be the key to all that surrounds it, but for me, it was a bit flat. It felt a bit too intentional and there was something simply dull about it, but perhaps that’s my lack of imagination. Regardless of my opinion, it is important and the structural skeleton in which the objects and the entire installation relies.

The most compelling section was the room adjacent to the video area, which felt like an opened out doctor’s office/waiting room. There were charming and enlivening paintings on the wall that were apparently made by prisoners. There was a reptile, bird skeleton like chair, a bird with a necklace around it’s neck and metal scissors open to cut on a desk.

This balance of alive/dead and untouched/touched is extremely effecting in this show. The blur of what is a trace and what is just in wait of action makes the objects, the rooms, and the space, feel inhabited. The press release goes into Spicero’s interest in the ideas of institutionalized/ing of spaces and this fascination translates very succinctly in this show.

The idea of a branding/culting of selfhood through the programming of identity and how space infers and creates that sense of self knowledge is linked with the tonalities of uniforms, objects and structures in a way that is both passive and pervasive. I’m not sure what the whole situation is regarding Times Square Spacethe hearsay behind it may add another complicating layer…but nonetheless I have to commend this show as it feels like it is exactly were it is supposed to be.