Magazine article Artforum International

Roe Ethridge Andrew Kreps Gallery

Magazine article Artforum International

Roe Ethridge Andrew Kreps Gallery

Article excerpt

For his recent book Rockaway, NY (2007), Roe Ethridge exploited its namesake place as theme and organizational principle. With customary relish, he slotted images--actually taken in places as far-flung as Mumbai, St. Barts, and Cornwall, England, despite the volume's doggedly all-American title--of coolly nostalgic boardwalks, surf, and side streets next to a jaunty double vision of Santa Claus, a gamely nautical self-portrait, and an oddly affecting shot of a dead shark. A sort of one-man game of exquisite corpse, the photographs' interrelations become, literally, more than the sum of their parts in Ethridge's books and installations alike. But for "Rockaway Redux" at Andrew Kreps, a show of fifteen large-scale C-prints, which built quite explicitly on the earlier project, the process ran the risk of devolution into a foregone game of solitaire. Indeed, in making such an intuitive casting a replicable strategy--i.e., here a studio portrait, there a still life--the question became whether the results would end up reading as too forced or facile. To Ethridge's credit, even as the show skirted such total redundancy (redux as potential superfluity), it avoided these pitfalls while elevating them to the status of metanarrative.

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So in the judicious hang, a picture showing a scrim of netting taken from a baby's bath, Teddy Bears, 2008, riffed on its neighbor, Cappy (Mug Shot), 2008, an obscenely intimate crop of a clown sporting a bulbous nose, heart-shaped lips, and ruddy cheeks, all crowned by a maritime hat and set off by a star-spangled ensemble of red turtleneck, blue-and-white-striped shirt, and flag-patterned suspenders. Originally shot for Vice magazine, Cappy, like Jake with Wetsuit, 2008, which was also meant for that publication (it was one of a number of images Ethridge composed for a wintertime surf story), blurred the boundaries between the commercial and, well, the differently commercial. …

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