Magazine article Art Monthly

Greater New York

Magazine article Art Monthly

Greater New York

Article excerpt

Greater New York

PS1 New York 23 May to 18 October

Greater New York may be considered New York City's answer to The British Art Show: this quinquennial exhibition features work by emerging artists from the greater metropolitan area. Founded in 2000, this third incarnation features the work of 68 artists and collectives. While this may seem unwieldy, it is a significant scaling back from the last iteration, which featured over 200 artists. The decrease in numbers means that almost every artist has his or her own gallery. Jointly organised by PS1 and MoMA, the artists were selected by a panel including Klaus Biesenbach, director of PS1, Connie Butler, chief curator of drawings at MoMA, and Neville Wakefield, PS1 senior curatorial adviser. Given the abiding interests of this team, it is no surprise that the show features a predominance of performance and documentation works, as well as a fair share of female artists.

The exhibition itself spreads throughout the vast expanses of the former public school and makes one realise that the PS1 team has been wise to avoid a slick architectural makeover; by leaving the various rooms intact, although at times it resembles a warren, the building retains its immense character and each space feels unique. This contrasts favourably with the Whitney Museum, which at times feels too institutionalised for the emerging Biennial artists. Indeed, Greater New York has often been called an alternative to the Whitney Biennial.

Upon entering PS1, the visitor is confronted with a large wall-based text piece that reads: ERECT AND MASSIVE. Detext, a Romanian/Spanish team, contributes several of these text works that are scattered throughout the building. Playing on the language of phone sex line advertisements, Detext's piece reminds one that the current iteration has been dubbed pejoratively among cognoscenti as the 'gay and multiracial' Greater New York. This is made obvious in the work of many artists in the show, where gay and lesbian themes abound, including that of Leidy Churchman, David Benjamin Sherry, Kalup Linzy, K8 Hardy and AL Steiner.

Churchman uses naive-style painting on board, sculpture and video to express openly gay themes. While his practice seems to be concerned with a 'de-skilling', much of the queer-centred work uses lens-based media to express notions of identity and subjectivity. For example, Benjamin Sherry's hallucinogenic colour photographs acknowledge the digital world and perhaps the gay man's alienation from it. The collective AL Steiner uses candid, snapshot-style photography to mount a floor-to-ceiling, room-sized collage of graphic, confrontational lesbian culture. This was less successful than K8 Hardy's photographs of herself dressed in various guises, with superimposed images of found objects, such as a bra, that acknowledge second-wave feminism, including its ubiquitous matriarch Cindy Sherman. However, as a founder of LTTR (Lesbians to the Rescue), the radical lesbian collective, Hardy's works resist the high production values and oppositional tactics of earlier generations. Instead they hover somewhere between street fashion shoots and low-budget music videos. She has in fact styled both Fischerspooner and LeTigre.

Linzy, who remains a rising star on the NY scene with work in recent shows such as 'Dress Codes' at the International Center of Photography and 'Off the Wall' at the Whitney, addresses gay identity with a similar nod to fashion and music videos. His installation features drawings as well as a sofa where visitors don headphones and experience his video work. …

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