Magazine article Artforum International

Barbara Bloom: Tracy Williams, Ltd

Magazine article Artforum International

Barbara Bloom: Tracy Williams, Ltd

Article excerpt

Tracy Williams operates one of the few New York gallery spaces that could still be described as charming. Visitors must duck into a diminutive, below-ground-level doorway before being escorted into the first of two rambling floors of a Greenwich Village brownstone. To remark that the space still bears a tangible whiff of domesticity simply by virtue of its rooms' scale and design would be an understatement. Yet this willful lack of neutrality does more than spark nostalgia for a less uniform New York art world. Williams has crafted a program of exhibitions by artists whose practices are well framed by the stubborn clamor of the lived-in, with its sloping floorboards and exposed heating pipes, to say nothing of its constant evocation of the body.

Take Barbara Bloom, who, for her first solo show at the gallery, presented "Takes One to Know One," a collection of works that took over Williams's space as only real squatters could, elbowing into the nooks, crannies, and corners. Crowded into the small garden-level gallery, a simple theatrical mise-en-scene cast the shadows of eight everyday objects as seen through a semiopaque screen. The profiles of a music stand, a stool, and a photographer's umbrella, among others, were at once simplified and anthropomorphized. Titled Absence-Presence, 2006, the work also includes eight photographs, these suggesting a certain "life" for each of the aforementioned objects; and a suite of blank, evocative monochromatic rectangles painted directly on the walls--at once patches of decorative color and placeholders for things that might come to be or might have once been hung there.

Since the mid-'80s, Bloom has been acknowledged for her very particular brand of institutional critique: drawing attention to paradigms of viewing as they operate in museums and galleries but also fore-grounding her (and our) own desire and vanity in the production, viewing, and consumption of objects. …

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