Artists Space - Gower and Reyes
Terence Gower and Pedro Reyes @ Artists Space

If you get a chance you should really swing over by Artists Space on Greene Street in SoHo and check out the current exhibition, Elephant Cemetery, on view through 10 March. Honestly, the show is kinda disappointing. However! There are two works in the show which are so exciting that I think they’re worth suggesting making a trip for the entire show. How’s that for enthusiasm, eh?

The above image – as well as this image – shows one of two such pieces. ‘New Monuments for New Neighborhoods‘ by Terence Gower and Pedro Reyes, two artist-architects who both have concerns with the expanding neighborhoods built around the borders of Mexico City, as that city grows and expands. Their work presents us with email correspondences between the artists, along with books, photos and small-sculptural models, and accompanying text, for us to engage the notion of the physical space of the ‘barrio popular’ as a site for developing work. Very smart, as the work looks at other models and previous forms of architecture – one wonders what might come out of these models today. (The artists are currently in ‘phase one’ – construction begins in ‘phase three’ – so one day we’ll see!)

The other work (which I didn’t get a photo of) which is worth seeing is ‘Florida‘ by Kerry Tribe. Soundtrack-interviews with elderly people (they have that rasp in their voice y’know – I’ll have it someday) is combined with photos (not so engaging) and a mis-synched video projection of the swamps, jungles and marshes of Florida, as the voices discuss their visions of paradise, or their surroundings – thus their paradise, Florida. The opening scene I caught was of a slow-pan around a pond; the video was extremely steady, the water was perfectly still. Was the camera in a boat? On an island? Hovering in the air? The pace and pan of the video is convincing and seductive, like a fish unaware of the lure that will reel it in. This is accented by the boxes and foam-seating that is nearly bed-size – you can sprawl out and simply enjoy the art. Very refreshing, and the tales are really amazing. I plan on having another go with this work.

Other works in the show however were pretty disappointing. A projection by Mario Garcia Torres consisted of paragraph-long blocks of text that were only viewed for six or seven seconds before the next slide was rotated; this was a trade-off since most of the bits of text were one-liners of 9 or so words. But with an analog slide projector, you can’t control the difference between the short bits and the long bits. As soon as the long bit flashed, I walked out.

Additionally frustrating was Falke Pisano’s ‘Studio Lecture 1‘. A ‘lecture on DVD’, it ran for 45 minutes with an accompanying zine-like brochure. The lecture was like a seminar in art college on the topic of sculpture. And it may very well have been a direct reading of an academic text. I don’t know – I just couldn’t bother to find out. Mostly because this piece was right at the front of the exhibition, it’s monitor staring at you as you exit the elevator. So I’m presented with ‘shit, this is what I have to deal with here?’ And don’t get me wrong, I like this kind of work! I like the zine, I like lectures. But right at the beginning of the exhibition is a bit of a put-off. I would much rather have been introduced to the show through one of Jamie Shovlin’s watercolors, it’s tinge of play helping break the mould one always wears when entering a new show.

And some of the other works in the show, while very pleasing sculpturally were just not overall engaging, but maybe you’ll find something intriguing that I missed (like that networked triple-projection work – I feel like I should give that a bit more patience. We’ll see…)

[full-size photos on Flickr: here, here and here]