Installation: Claim Your Space
I see installation as a sort of manifest destiny of the artist’s mind. You can say nothing and go backwards or you can encapsulate your viewer in your ideas. Either way the focus is always the transformed space and the viewer’s presence. If you trust me, stop reading now, go to Marlborough Chelsea at 545 W 25th St, and see the show there, the whole show.
Sometimes installation is large-scale sculpture that takes over a space, and they can be good or bad, but I actually think the most successful installations are completely immersive. Andrew Ohanesian’s “House Party” is placating a useless wave of nostalgia that’s been hitting 20-something/30-somethings for a couple of years now, but at least it effectively transported the people in The Boiler to another place. Justin Lowe and Jonah Freeman’s installation at Marlborough Chelsea transports the viewer in layers and ideas. “Stray Light Grey” and “House Party” both use references to the past and drug culture, but the difference is Lowe and Freeman are using the 70s as a layer of collage. They’re veiling their editorial policy in psychedelia and sci-fi novels. Which dammed if it isn’t close to my own way of working, but they’re so much more skilled and impressive.
You have to walk through the galleries’ supply closet in “Stray Light Grey” which breaks the pristine illusion around the idea of “The Art Gallery” really well. The show’s really aided by being in an uninviting, fancy, new building called “Chelsea Arts Tower” as well. While walking over a bathtub, a few holes in the wall, some sketchy hallways and waiting rooms, you start to think about the people behind the desk, the gross infrastructure behind the fancy building you’re in, and by the end wealth seems a little more disgusting. Reminded me of a time when I was dragged to one of those gilded Chinese Restaurants, the kind where you go up a long escalator surrounded by gold tapestries and statues, the waiters all have fitted uniforms with engraved name tags, cloth napkins, elegance is the obvious goal, but you can’t help thinking about the mafia the entire time. While there, my friends went to the bathroom, but took a wrong turn and instead of nice soaps and marble floors, encountered a dirty backroom with workers sleeping on the hard ground. All that glitters is probably built on the backs of the poor and the unfortunate. Anyway, “Stray Light Grey” is too complicated and intricate for me to write about fully, so just go see the show before it closes next month.
Also I’m putting up an installation at Purchase on Monday and I’m wired with inspiration.