Sunday, June 28, 2009

FRENZY Following the lead begun by On Kawara’s obsessive and precise notations of his place in the world, Frenzy! attempts to manage world events by arranging in numerical order the results of various rebel incursions, government crack-downs, air and traffic crashes, isolated bombings, and mass arrests. Drawn from the headlines of the daily newspaper over the course of one year and printed in dramatic red on black, these often alliterative one-liners resemble a harshly beautiful type of poetry. These haiku of horror begin with “War Crimes Suspect Blows Himself Up” and continues almost unabated until “Explosives Laden Vehicle Blast Kills One Hundred”. Designed as a wall installation limited to a maximum of one hundred panels and arranged in a grid, something curious and quietly uplifting begins to happen amidst the onslaught of carnage: gaps begin to insinuate themselves among the corpses. As the number of multiple deaths increase, these incidents of calm gradually outnumber and overtake the headlines. As the body count rises it becomes apparent that, in a grimly positive way, events resulting in an ever-increasing loss of life become a rarer and more isolated phenomenon. A second version adapts the headlines as a rapid-fire slide show/video projection. As the progression of killing starts to slow down, the exhibition space becomes enveloped in blackness with increasing regularity, only to be interrupted occasionally by the next ghastly incident. To insure continuity, the projections are accompanied by calmly soothing (or irritatingly inappropriate) elevator music – depending on your worldview. But this piece solves a puzzle of a more formalist nature. There has always been a question in my mind of how one makes art that is monumental in scale and scope yet maintains the economic benefits of inexpensive shipping and storage. That this problem is not new can be explained by example. Though their conceptual points of view and aesthetic approaches are varied, Carl Andre, Gilbert and George, and Annette Messanger all come readily to mind as artists who have found solutions to this dilemma in their own ways. BRUCE EVES

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