Magazine article Artforum International

Mungo Thomson: Margo Leavin Gallery

Magazine article Artforum International

Mungo Thomson: Margo Leavin Gallery

Article excerpt

In his third solo show at Margo Leavin Gallery, Mungo Thomson extended a practice based on the double-take. He encouraged us to look again at familiar types and styles of images and their intertwined manifestations in mainstream and alternative culture; fine and folk art; artisanal and industrial production; consumerism, politics and faith.

In the gallery's entryway were a number of seemingly simple yet actually complex and diffuse works: Freak Flag (USA), 2004, an inverted stars and stripes stitched from used denim that reduces the original to a faded blue monochrome; Black Chimes, 2004, a cluster of IKEA-ish modern wind chimes made of birch and aluminum, but all clad in black and hanging eerily silent; Levitating Pentagon, 2004, a drawing of a building literally distanced from the nation it purportedly serves; and a collection of variously lifelike George W. Bush pinatas.

Works in two further rooms also explored a jumble of themes: spirituality, politics, and art, Americana. Americanism and the international. In a small space, orblike Coin Lamps made of soldered US currency elevated folksy handicraft to the heights of modernist purity in globe-mimicking form and provided dim theatrical lighting to accompany a slide presentation of tourist shots taken on the Empire State Building's observation platform. In these images, diversity and individualism are lost as the photographs' subjects repeat the same pose against the safety bars, blocking out that for which they came--the grand view from on high out across the city and, by implication, the country and the world.

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Entering a third space required navigating around a wall--suggestive of Minimalist sculptures, designer screens, and defensive barriers--constructed from stacked black foam bricks of the sort used as positioning aids in yoga studios. If the yoga shtick seems too clever, the wall, visually dense and imposing yet soft and ready to crumble, stands as a compelling open metaphor. …

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