Magazine article Artforum International

Nayland Blake: Location One

Magazine article Artforum International

Nayland Blake: Location One

Article excerpt

The OED tells us that the word behave derives from the Middle English "be + haven"--"to have" or, slightly differently, "to hold"--and that behavior, then, designates the manner in which one holds oneself. But though the dictionary doesn't ascribe any inherent judgment to the term (one could behave very badly or with utter propriety or in any manner in between) there is built into its everyday use an assumption of the worst. One rarely brings up behavior if it's good (unless as a way to reduce jail time!); and though ostensibly describing an individual's actions, the word always serves to point out the proximity or distance of those actions to normalcy.

Marking the gap between the normative and his own comportment, Nayland Blake's show at Location One--his first survey, curated by Maura Reilly--was titled "Behavior," and offered a no-holds-barred look at the artist's last three decades of work dedicated to quite particular perversions. Blake's exhibition was strangely intimate in unexpected ways, offering so many glimpses into the ways in which one person holds himself, in more than one sense of the phrase. Blake's practice, which is conceptually based but ranges vastly through materials and modes of production, is often associated with video and large-scale installation, but the scene at Location One was given over to more personal effects and the affects, or feelings, with which we invest them, incorporating as it did so much intimate stuff seemingly culled from bedside reading table or sex drawer.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Though much of Blake's work is certainly tongue-in-cheek (Companion, 2006, is a T-shirt stained with what one assumes to be bodily fluids and printed with the words GNOME FONDLER; Heavenly Bunny Suit, 1994, a gold costume for the high-class "furry"; Homunculus, 1992, a strangely pathetic piece suggestive of s/m garb), there is, too, a kind of delicate campiness--if such a category can be argued--that hints at the seriousness of Blake's endeavors. …

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