Magazine article Artforum International

Karin F. Giusti: Nikolai Fine Art. (Reviews - New York)

Magazine article Artforum International

Karin F. Giusti: Nikolai Fine Art. (Reviews - New York)

Article excerpt

The White House has always been the focus of memorable scenes emblematic of American political administrations, from Jackie Kennedy's Camelot-era interior design schemes to the Clintons' grab for presidential housewares earlier this year ($190,000 worth of china, flatware, rugs, televisions, and sofas they'd interpreted as personal gifts) and the Bushes' proposed renovations, which shed new light on Republican criticism of Democratic excess ($430,000 to fix up the pool; $75,000 for a kitchen floor that won't "leak grease" into offices below). The building is simultaneously a private and a public site, a prime-time television star (backdrop for The West Wing), a paradigm of official American architectural taste, and an edifice whose very name and plantation like design conjure issues of race and historical inequities in this country. Recently it took on an even more sinister role: terrorist target. Structure, document symbol, idea, the White House is ripe fodder for artists, though few have taken it as their s ubject. That, like many other things, may soon change.

Karin F. Giusti, who has been working on the "White House Project" since 1996, is ahead of the curve. Five years ago she exhibited White House Greenhouse, 1996 a large Plexiglas structure filled with plants, in New York's Battery Park and a similar piece, The Green White House, 1995, in Hartford, Connecticut. This recent show included a variety of works demonstrating the artist's wide-ranging treatment of the White House as a locus of domestic power and a clearinghouse for capitalist interests. Three works, collectively titled Secret, 2001, featured drawings on vellum and other ephemera layered in Plexiglas-and-wood cases: a letter from the Department of the Interim denying Giusti's request to take photos of White House architectural details; sketches of hieroglyphic-type symbols used by stonemasons to identify their work on the structure; and drawings of cornice carvings and moldings. …

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