Magazine article Artforum International

Jonah Freeman

Magazine article Artforum International

Jonah Freeman

Article excerpt

ANDREW KREPS

Jonah Freeman examines American living spaces as though he were an anthropologist noting surprising details of an alien tribe's dwellings. For his recent exhibition, Freeman created works inspired by the fact and idea of gated communities, those dreary locations pervaded by class-conscious hermeticism and the ecology of fear. In video, installation, and photographs, he explored issues surrounding the poetics of place--the kind of dystopic place where comfort is infused with a sense of isolation.

Bring the Outside In (all works 2000) consisted of two looped videos projected onto the walls in a corner of the gallery. Alternating between panoramic tracking shots of a groomed outdoor space, a house, and a room and stationary close-ups of architectural or technological details, Freeman invites these houses and gardens to reveal their essential uncanniness. He apparently likes blinds, which are usually shown drawn or half open, as though expressing the closed-off feeling of these buildings and the willed blindness of their residents. He also seems fascinated by buttons--the digits on an answering machine or a TV remote, which hint at a kind of dislocated contact with the outside world.

Most of the videos' cinematic scenarios are unpeopled, though we do catch an occasional glimpse of a blurry face or a hand sporting a gleaming wedding ring. Freeman's human subjects appear mostly in a suite of staged color photographs in another corner of the gallery. In this series, "Making the Nature Scene," a woman stands in profile holding a cocktail, while the shot focuses on the corner of the room behind her. Another woman washes pots and pans, pouring Joy into the sink. A third, wearing a pleated white tennis dress, stands in the corner of a darkened outdoor court. …

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