Magazine article Artforum International

"Two or Three Things I Know about Her": Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts, Harvard University

Magazine article Artforum International

"Two or Three Things I Know about Her": Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts, Harvard University

Article excerpt

In "Two or Three Things I Know About Her," five female New Yorkers can't ignore the fact that they hardly recognize their city. Everything that made it the capital of the twentieth century--its subways and sidewalks, its newspapers and nightly news shows, its psychoanalysis habit, its shared urban space and the freedom of (many different forms of) speech and expression that played out there--is romanced and mourned here at once. Harvard's Carpenter Center gallery is housed in the lobby of the only Le Corbusier building in North America, and its cement and glass recurred throughout curator Helen Molesworth's elegant installation, as the artists pounded the pavement (one even broke her nose on an office building's glass door). In these works, modern and postmodern forms of speech and engagement contend with newer, less-well-understood daily reality, reflecting loss and lost-ness, a sense that activities that used to have their place are now tinged with paranoia and pathos.

Sharon Hayes's In the Near Future, 2005, is made up of repeating projected images of the artist alone in a crowd, holding signs--I AM A MAN or WHO APPROVED THE WAR IN VIETNAM? and so on--outside Rockefeller Center, HSBC Bank, or Duane Reade, as if dropped off by a time machine. In the photographs that document this performance, Hayes is frozen, cut and pasted into an enervated contemporary New York. As in her other work, her tool is the tension between who she is and what she is saying. Ulrike Muller's One of Us: Freakish Moments, 2004, a spoken-word piece heard through headphones, paints a relentless slapstick word-picture in second person: "You fart on [sic] the bus stop. You are looking at the man next to you when it happens and before you even realize what's going on you say excuse me. You want to walk away but you stay, and feeling like an idiot you board the bus with all the others. …

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