On October 21st, I went to an opening at PS1 mainly with the goal of seeing the paintings of Kathe Burkhart with whom I am taking a feminist theory course at NYU. I was also intrigued and motivated to see Senso Unico-Contemporary Italian Sculpture.
Currently on view at PS1: Senso Unico, Fassbinder: Berlin Alexanderplatz, Kris Martin, Min Tanaka, Adel Adbessemed, Kathe Burkhart, Lovett/Codagnone, Irrational Profusion, Orpheus Selection-Nicola Lopez & Lisa Sigal (And a barrage of international and national projects featuring the works of Manon DeBoer, Eyal Danieli, Shannon Ebner, Tony Fitzpatrick, Anders Goldfar, Lisa Kirk, Diana Puntar, and Andreas Zyback).
I passed through the 70’s style stone entranceway to be greeted by the usual PS1 weekend crowd. Artists, collectors, dealers, and young children alike, strolled through the courtyard currently planned and designed by Liquid Sky. The sun gleamed and filled the outdoor space with a beautiful contrast of golden yellow and blue gray. I took a few photographs and then continued into the museum walking through the main doorway and to the left. The first exhibition was Senso Unico. I really enjoyed this gallery and reconized many of the artists featured. One shocker is a video piece by Vanessa Beecroft that stars her usual stick-figure models, but has what appeared to be in quick passing, more of a narrative/plot. The piece also smelled of violence. In the rooms to follow, are paintings by Angelo Filomeno who I wrote about briefly after seeing his work in the Arsenale of this years Biennale (“Shitting Philosopher”). Next is the large scale video piece by Ra di Martino. Camera in hand, I failed at my attempt to take photographs. The museum guards were in abundance and watched both myself and others without the coveted press pass. Of course, always up to a challenge, I did manage to sneak a few shots.
(Ra di Martino, Video still-)
Throughout the museum there are several works that I feel merit mentioning. Artist Lisa Kirk, for one, has used the power of smell. Soft incense and what may be perfume radiate out of a room on the second floor. Upon entering the space, there is a door sealed by a glass/Plexiglas covering, which encases a room completely upside-down. The experience of the viewer is as outsider looking in but surrounded by a delicate perfume. The effect is dazzling and dizzying but also smile inducing.
After greeting a few friends who were also mingling in the hallways, I went to see the work of Adel Abdessemed: Dead or Alive. The first visual one gets upon entering the large corner gallery space, is a video, extremely close-up of a cat eating a mouse. The entrails of the mouse slide out of the cats mouth and onto the sidewalk. I’m pretty sure that the experience I had at the inauguration was probably different from what other viewers will experience after the fact. Two young girls (probably 3/4 years old) were in the immediate front of the piece and proceeded to “touch” the cats mouth and then turn and giggle. Giggle? The image for me, was very relevant in regards to contemporary art and the generational gap that is present but obviously shrinking. Adel’s work felt extremely masculine to me and the various sculptural materials including knives pointed into the floor and over-sized drill bits pointing towards the ceiling, are obvious symbols of an ego awry.
Kris Martin: End Points. (Below, a train/airplane board that clicks and spins but never displays the time of departure).
Kris Martin’s work also includes a fiberglass cast of an Italian Renaissance Sculpture (the name of which I should know as I’ve seen the original, but it escapes me), a huge sword, drawings of “endpoints” from various novels, a 3/4 inch wide mirror, a reconstructed vase, and glass domes, which reminded me of elongated petri dishes used in high school science class.
Lastly, I went to see what had brought me to the museum; the paintings of Kathe Burkhart. Some of the paintings being exhibited, from her Elizabeth Taylor series I have seen before but enjoyed seeing again and this time in a more relevant context. New works featured are ink-jet prints from documentary style portraits of people at “clothing optional” beaches in the Netherlands and Spain. I couldn’t help but jot down part of the introduction to this series, which has (or might have) an affinity to what I am working on right now….
“The bodies of strangers become the site upon which the self is inscribed, conveying a glimpse into the Utopian possibilities and strange new vitality of an aging society-a space where social and physical differences begin to blur, moving from dystopia to utopia somehow outside the confines of conventional beauty.”
When I went to class the following Monday, I asked Kathe about this series in particular and mentioned that it relates to my current work and to my experience, topless at the beach in Venice this summer. She replied that she was also nude, and stated, “I held the camera between my breasts and it became a gun and my tits were torpedo’s.”