Friday, May 30, 2008

To Bordellos or Bedlam -- No Way Back

Looking again at the post below, I see my reference to a “second gallery,” by which I meant at the time the upper gallery. Having had a second look, let me remind myself and the reader that there was also an adjunct space (not the special project space) with a few more choice items from Ms. Schnibbe, including the not-quite-ready-for-icon-status teddy bear and bunny rabbit figures of “Are You My Mother?” and “Smilee’s Love Child” and Schnibbe’s kawaii riposte to Freud’s Civilization and Its Discontents, “Death Drive.” Aside from Schnibbe’s way with purples and pinks and the kawaii charm of these floating quasi-fetal creatures, this gallery also merited a look

18 May 2008

(Schnibbe cont’d.) The second level of Circus was given over to larger panels of abstract painting along the lines of “The Pornographic Imagination.” – with the Leger aspect morphing on this slightly reduced scale (yet apparently magnified) into curving quasi-organic Arp-like mazes, canals, and appendices (and ‘teeth’ and ‘nipples’ – and why shouldn’t they be in close proximity?) in deep matte reds and blacks (which also echoed the embryonic aspect of the teddies and bunnies downstairs). “For the Love of Amber Vega” was another porn set piece – though less porn ‘set’, per se, and more a slightly streamlined, even clinical (triangular red satin pillows), bordello chamber, albeit with some calculated ‘homey’ touches (the macramé chandelier drape; the knit bolster – with a skein of multi-colored yarns rolled up on the bed, ready to be taken up with knitting needles.

Schnibbe is fairly explicit (here and elsewhere in the show) about certain aspects of fetish the work explores. Where the paintings and drawings tease form and fetish (the thwarted drive), the ‘sets’ tend to explode it (the death drive untrammeled – or unraveled, as it were). Put the knives away – all you need is a pair of needles. Or maybe just your eyes.


C.O.L.A. was absolutely fantastic this year – aside from the fact that Tulsa Kinney’s (referred to elsewhere here as Fearless Leader) doppelganger was finally exposed to the art world spotlight and revealed as – (what else?) an artist. An extremely interesting, even superb artist – Judie Bamber works with Polaroids and family photographs to produce obliquely observed, almost (at moments) severe, sometimes slightly off-kilter drawings and paintings of (among others presumably) family members – here, specifically, her mother (apparently relating to an on-going series of paintings and drawings). They’re quietly, unassumingly, but sometimes astonishingly beautiful, casting a stark light on both an extremely private and broadly cultural moment (via clothes, hairstyles, settings). That her mother is a beauty doesn’t hurt, of course; but the poetry is about far more than physical beauty. They can be almost chillingly matter of fact, yet – as rendered here in pencil and pigments – touch something deeper, harsher, yet humanly vulnerable. It’s halfway to Bedlam (à la Anne Sexton) but more than halfway back (without the manic touches) and almost as moving. (Interesting coincidence that Tulsa Kinney herself has painted more than one series of (vividly expressionist, and sometimes quite powerful) paintings based loosely on photographic material.) So – separated at birth, anyone?

Walking into the show, you were greeted by a stunning installation – a kind of dive-bomber greeting – cranes and planes and fighters and stealth flying wings in treated or what looked like vintage book leaves or pages – themselves altogether in a kind of fighting wing formation – Descent by Joyce Dallal, with the whole anchored by rocks and chunks of concrete at the floor. Although Dallal has worked loosely in this mode, and on this scale before (she has done many installations), it was impossible not to sense a certain debt to Pae White’s similar raining suspensions. Unlike White, Dallal apparently also works a great deal with text, as she does here; but – drama aside – it’s hard to know how effectively. There was the obvious cultural-political statement; and, well .... It's not as if we can actually read these texts -- even if we had the texts printed out for us -- on the vari-colored papers, to boot. Maybe I need to 'refresh (my) view' on this. (I should complain about drama??) And there was so much MORE.

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