Amidst the latest trends in both Chelsea and Williamsburg, including the bubbly corpuscular, the potted plant/craftwork, and the personal scenario/ interior tableaus, I found some great work that stopped me in my tracks:

Franz Gertsch’s dazzling monumental paintings dating from 1977-79 of Patti Smith doing a sound check as photographed in Cologne in 1977; Having only been allowed a glimpse of these being installed in Munich’s Pinakothek der Moderne, I was grateful to have them in front of me in all their perfectly executed offhand provisionality at ">Gagosian, Chelsea. The older these paintings get, the newer they feel.

Jennifer Steinkamp’s life sized video projections of artificially animated trees at ">Lehmann Maupin: Leaves and branches swirling in a lifelike eddy of wind that robotically reverses & loops through again with a digital clone of the same movement. I thought I could hear the wind rustling the leaves in the video, but it was just the traffic on the street outside the gallery.

And finally, the most haunting pieces of all: Liselot van der Heijden’s succinct video projections at the Williamsburg gallery Schroeder Romero. A downed zebra in daytime TV closeup takes it’s last breath (or are they breaths?) facing directly into the camera. I wanted to look away, but felt a responsibility to watch. The other video piece frames another tight close-up of carrion birds ravenously devouring their prey while subtitles appear in a cycle: “this is not political”, and “this is not about oil”, and repeating more rarely: “a vulture is not an eagle.” I stood still contemplating these pieces and thought that in the past I wouldn’t have had patience with this level of exploitive drama in an art piece, but now marked the difference I feel about the relative realism and appropriate rationality of the relevance of these pieces to our current world economic and political situation. Leaving me even more impressed, the gallerist told me that the quotes were lifted from press briefings by ex-press secretary Ari Fleischer.

- Cheryl Meeker [Monday, January 26th, 2004]


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