Alec Soth, the darling of the photographic community for the last few years, has a show up at Gagosian in Chelsea. Surprisingly, for his first major New York show Soth is showing new work that is very different from the large-format Southern portraits and landscapes that made his name. Niagara is a project done in the towns around Niagara Falls in upstate New York. While these are still pictures of people and landscapes, Soth injects his new show with an undercurrent of sex. Enlarged love letters, which read like grade-school notes or pulp novels, hang next to portraits of naked couples. While it can be inferred that the letters somehow relate to the people it is not entirely clear how. The showstopper is a picture of a generic hotel bed with two towels folded into the shape of swans, which together make the shape of a heart. It stands out from the other pictures in that he seems to have switched modes from neutral observation to making his intentions and presence clear—almost like a Erwin Wurm or Gabriel Orozco photograph. It is hopeful to see an artist who at first seemed so old-fashioned branching out into work like this.
Often artists are able to avoid the corporate world entirely, but if you haven’t been so lucky, or find it as exotically weird as I do, you would have enjoyed “Success: the YD Way”. Performed and produced last week at the Exploratorium by James Bewley and George Nachtrieb, this was a warped version of the corporate success seminar or PR extravaganza, hilariously highlighting the lame, sentimental, and borderline cult hype of seminars you may have attended or interloped upon yourself. Extensive use of the PowerPoint presentation, break-out sessions, and explanation of the corporate hierarchy of YD Industries were the formal aspects of a work that underscored the banality and increasing ubiquity of corporate culture. This piece was one of the
Situation Abnormal performances at the Exploratorium; there are two remaining.
On what was a previously art-free block in Chelsea (27th Street between 11th & 12th Avenues) a group of youngish gallerists opened up a sort of art mall last night. The galleries, which include John Connelly Presents, Wallspace, Foxy Production, Clementine and a few others are lined up in a row of storefronts making it easy to see a lot of work at once. But is it worth it? Hard to say from a visit made elbowing through the crowds of opening night.
One highlight was the show at Foxy by Jacob Ciocci. He is a member of the collective Paper Rad and his solo work is similar to theirs. Here he shows hybrids of digital video, computer graphics, sculpture, and drawings that anybody who came of age in the 1980s will relate to. He’s got Gremlins, Mario Brothers, troll dolls, Bobby McFerrin, etc. Sounds like pure kitsch but Ciocci pulls it off with the sincerity and the frenetic pitch of the work.
On the way out of Chelsea I checked in with the establishment at Mary Boone. There is a group show there, “Hiding in the Light,” curated by Neville Wakefield. The highlight of this show was a coat I saw a woman wearing. It was a puffy jacket with outer fabric that was translucent and lined with a swirly psychedelic cotton. It was pretty spectacular. I also liked Rudolf Stingel’s piece in which he covered the entire floor with mirror-polished aluminum and Aleksandra Mir’s big marker drawings of the United States.