Magazine article Artforum International

David Snyder: Michael Benevento

Magazine article Artforum International

David Snyder: Michael Benevento

Article excerpt

David Snyder

MICHAEL BENEVENTO

Manic humor pervades David Snyder's immersive installations. In his previous solo exhibitions at Michael Benevento, Snyder altered the gallery's architecture to create eerie, fun-house-like settings. In "Face Forward," 2011, the viewer walked through a passage of wall-size, face-like facades, each paired with a distinctive, disembodied voice--imbuing the gallery space with a schizo character. In "Ectoplasms," 2013, a false ceiling in one corner of the gallery would suddenly shake, triggered by a motion sensor when one approached the paintings hung below it. Portrait of Nugose, 2013, an enormous, amorphous sculpture of an imaginary being covered in goopy material (including dough and marshmallows), emitted clanking sounds as one got close to a drawing of the creature installed nearby. Objects, substances, and situations were made unfamiliar to create fantastical, yet intensely physical, worlds of irreality.

Unlike Snyder's earlier works, the present exhibition, titled "2THNDNL" (tooth and nail), incorporated more pointedly political matter, as the country gears up for its next presidential election. In the gallery's front rooms, two video works faced off: In a room on the left was Ronald Reagan, Fathers & Sons, 2015-16, a video I featuring a shifting sea of (mostly Republican) politicians and pundits whose mouths were caught uttering Ronald Reagan. Eyes and mouths were incongruously combined, including those belonging to Reagan himself, George W. Bush and his brother Jeb, Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, Donald Trump, and Barack Obama. A few women also appear, such as Margaret Thatcher and Hillary Clinton (suggesting a parenthetical addition: "Partners & Daughters, Too"). Across from this work, in the right-hand room, was Swansong, 2016, composed of clips from home videos of barking dogs. The compiled sound track begins with insistent yapping, which crescendos into violent growling, before climaxing poignantly in howls. When viewed in relation to Ronald Reagan, Fathers & Sons, the sorrowful finale of Swansong brings to mind the gross inequality--and oppressive poverty for some--resulting from the tax cuts and deregulation that began with Reagan. Instead of "trickling down," wealth has become consolidated in the hands of a few.

These works set the tone for the labyrinthine installation in the adjacent rooms, titled Porous, Poor us, Por us, 2016. …

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