Magazine article Artforum International

James Gilbert

Magazine article Artforum International

James Gilbert

Article excerpt

A pointed critique of the current regime of safety-consciousness, "Warnings & Instructions," James Gilbert's recent exhibition, took as its starting point a cartoonlike replica of a plane crash: an almost life-size fuselage, severed into three sections, and two lifeboats, all arrayed across the expansive floor of Dallas Contemporary's new space. Made from safety-orange plywood armatures covered by a patchwork of plastic in various shades of pink, these structures had the plump proportions and candy colors of toys. To further emphasize the disturbing blitheness, Gilbert embellished the lifeboats with playground equipment. The mast of one vessel sports a basketball hoop, while a pool slide descends from its stern; a seesaw sits on the gunwale of the other boat--the effect is Theodore Gericault's Raft of the Medusa reimagined as a pleasant diversion. Gilbert's casual craftsmanship--threads dangle from the plastic's seams, and the boats' wooden oars are scrappily handmade--adds to the insouciant air.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Videos played on screens scattered throughout the gallery. Several tiny monitors occupied cracks and voids in the scarred cinder-block walls of the space (formerly a metal shop), while a replica of the airplane's so-called black box held another. These portray a shirtless man swimming underwater; the fact that he never comes up for air confirms that all is not well in candy land. Also striking an ominous tone is a video lampooning standard airline-safety admonitions. On screens situated inside the plane's central fragment, a mouth, seen in extreme close-up, delivers ludicrously inappropriate advice--such as "No pushing unless the people in front of you are slow" and "Look under your seat for free stuff"--in the emotionless tone of official condescension that tends to inform such instructions. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.