Mar. 31-May 19, 2001, at Exit Art, 548 Broadway, New York, N.Y. 10012.
"Danger" introduces the work
of eight artists who have forsaken the refined precincts of high art in
search of the heart-thumping, hair-raising real world. Exit Art curator
Papo Colo calls this kind of artist a cultural provocateur. "You are the
unknown," he says, "an accident that frees your identity, a cultural option
placed in the future."
The spirit of the show is
very 1960s, with a kind of Whole Earth Catalog feel -- part utopian
vision, part counter-cultural ingenuity, all overlaid by a Weatherman radicality.
It's about living by your wits, politically aware, inventing a new world.
Several works have that post-apocalyptic
approach to machines. One of Robert Chambers' outsized sculptures, assembled
from found industrial parts, is a giant fan wheel that viewers can pump
so the blades spin and create a loud metallic scraping sound. Chico MacMurtries,
a San Francisco artist who worked with Mark Pauline and who has recently
relocated to New York, presents a group of rusty, computer-driven robots
who perform a mechanized, sexualized danse macabre.
Gregory Green, who is perhaps
best known for his eerily real models of rockets and bombs, devised a more
idealistic work for "Danger." Green's simple installation memorialized
his failed attempt to establish The Free State of Caroline in the
South Pacific, a country that would welcome the disenfranchised of the
Keith Sanborn's installation
includes a projection of a reworked Kennedy assassination film, in which
Sanborn plays Moroccan celebratory music along with his colorized and altered
clips from the Zapruder footage. As for Slaven Tolj, his suicidal performance
was a absurdist comment on conflicts in his native Croatia -- he drank
vodka and brandy until he was poisoned by the alcohol and had to be taken
to the hospital.
For his symbolic installation
titled The Holy Land, Yucef Merhi buried computer serial ports in
a Torah and a Koran, connecting them with barbed wire. Overhead, he hung
a hybrid flag of Lebanon and Israel.
Other contributions to the
show include David "The Impact Addict" Leslie's rocket launch of himself
into a pile of 2,000 watermelons and Susan Seubert's photos of the most
commonly used instruments in domestic violence cases.
In addition to the installations,
"Danger" features a program of videotapes by eight other artists, including
Chris Burden and Skip Arnold, two artists who are more notorious for courting
the eponymous subject.
In Peter Weir's film The
Mosquito Coast, Harrison Ford plays an ornery, intelligent, creative
man who attempts start his own civilization from scratch in the middle
of the jungle. Weir's evocation of frustrated idealism is not unlike the
prevailing esthetic in "Danger."
Perhaps the best element
here is the art's sense of stubbornness. It seems to say, "This is how
I feel and the hell with you if you don't like it." That irrational imbalance
fueled the experimentation of the '60s -- and would appear to be one of
the guiding principles of new art today.
FYFE is an artist who writes on art.