The title of the current exhibition featured in the rotunda of the Guggenheim suggests ghosts, phantoms, zombies and other relics of the undead. Unfortunately, rather then tap into life after death and the mysteries of the netherworld, Haunted instead traces a historical thread in the evolution of photography beyond that of portraiture or documentation. The exhibit weaves a web of both still photography, collage and montage as well as moving image. It also taps into the emergence of appropriation as a form of art referencing Warhol and Richard Prince.

A semblance between pieces does recall the human presence along with residue left once the space is void. Is it in this void space we are thought to find haunting? In remembrance or documentation of life are we supposed to think of death and the spirits that exist in a negated purgatory?

The exhibition does feature some rather strong pieces and is quite informative as the work is mostly hanging not only in curator specified groupings but chronologically. When not tangled in its own web, Haunted both entices and engages the viewer and while somewhat predictable one piece in particular makes Haunted live up to its name.

Nail Biter, (still shown above) a video by Anthony Goicolea features a phantasm! A young boy, wild empty glowing eyes sits furiously in bed biting his nails. The viewer becomes a voyeur in a nightmare, as a dim light illuminates the situation. He bites his fingernails, which appear to be endless, and they drip out of his mouth landing on his glistening soaked sweater and wet hands. Piles of nails! Wet with saliva collect in gooey piles. This was the only piece in the entire exhibit that felt literally “haunted” and I grinned as curious museum goers entered the room and quickly exited either shaking his or her head or grimacing.

Another piece that is really strong in emitting phantasmagoria is by Adam Helms: Untitled Portrait, (Santa Fe Trail), 2007 an appropriated photo that has been interacted with. In the tactile process it has transformed both villain and hero in one fell swoop.

Haunted is on view at the Guggenheim Museum until September 6th (when you go make sure to also see Julie Mehretu: Grey Area)

More soon.
— Posted from my iPhone