NYArt BEAT - Displayed - July 2014
Anton Kern Gallery presents Displayed an exhibition curated by artist and White Columns’ director Matthew Higgs.
Displayed is an exhibition of artworks that, in very different ways, explore the methodologies – both formal and psychological – of display and presentation. Borrowing from the languages of architecture, the museum, interior design, retail, and advertising among other disciplines, the works in Displayed variously consider our shifting relationships with – and attachments to – objects and the circumstances in which we encounter them: whether it be the gallery, the store, the street, the home, etc.
Central to Displayed is the mercurial practice of artist Nancy Shaver, whose antique store ‘Henry’ in Hudson, NY is an eccentric laboratory dedicated to nurturing a confusion between art and commerce, between the applied and fine arts, between good and bad taste. In Displayed Shaver juxtaposes her own sculptures – which often take the form of assisted ready-mades – with finds from estate sales and thrift stores establishing a fluid, albeit unstable taxonomy of objects. Elsewhere B. Wurtz creates low-fi armatures that privilege – even celebrate – the marginal and the maligned (a plastic shopping bag, a tube sock etc.). Josh Smith’s ‘Stage Painting’ is essentially a jerry-rigged monument to himself. On the gallery’s exterior walls, exposed to the elements, Chris Martin displays his paintings, where the gallery itself becomes a kind of pedestal, and Martin’s paintings a form of ‘advertising’: alerting the passerby to the nature of the business conducted within. (A scenario echoed in Moyra Davey’s early 1990s photographs of New York newsstands, with their informal grids and stacks of magazines and newspapers.) Rachel Harrison’s ad-hoc telephone booth-like structure functions as if a vitrine, or container for its enclosed sculptural event. The museum vitrine, a device that both frames and protects, is self-consciously present in Annette Kelm’s documentary accounts of feminist ephemera. Carissa Rodriguez’s Ikebana display and Marc Camille Chaimowicz’s faux floral bouquet each, in quite distinct ways, seek to apply order to nature.
In these and other works in Displayed the artist explicitly engages with, amplifies and disrupts the aesthetic – and psychological – possibilities inherent to the processes of selection, arrangement and presentation. (A process analogous to the role of the curator, the window dresser, or the art director, each of whom identifies, organizes and choreographs things in space). The artworks in Displayed self-reflexively explore these dynamics and tensions: where the distinction between what is presented and how it is presented is often moot.
Created by a intergenerational group of artists the works in Displayed, like the artists themselves, are willfully idiosyncratic, each made with specific intent, yet seen together these artworks are, I would suggest, representatives of a broad yet pervasive aesthetic tendency, an under-acknowledged ‘movement’ of sorts – “displayism” perhaps – that has shadowed the history of modernism (and what followed): its legacy evident in the practices of Marcel Broodthaers, Haim Steinbach, Gulillaume Bijl, John Armleder, Isa Genzken, Barbara Bloom, Louise Lawler, and Carol Bove among many others.