Magazine article Artforum International

"Loop": P. S. 1. (Reviews: New York)

Magazine article Artforum International

"Loop": P. S. 1. (Reviews: New York)

Article excerpt

About halfway through this selective survey of formal and conceptual circularity in contemporary art, one encountered a large wall text reading IT'S ONLY JUST BEGUN. This proclamation (a 1993 "instruction" work by Douglas Gordon) would have served nicely at the show's entrance as a kind of deadpan slogan, but its placement in the middle of the installation is both sly and appropriate. Keenly reflexive, Instruction (#4) exemplifies the way in which all the works here seamlessly repeat, merging beginning and end in cyclical continuity.

Organized by chief curator Klaus Biesenbach (and traveling to P.S. I from the Munich Kunsthalle, where it debuted last fall), the exhibition assembled a motley group of fifteen artists related solely by their engagement with the loop, an increasingly popular device. The diversity of media represented (photography, sculpture, and performance were in evidence, with film and video constituting a majority) reflected Biesenbach's broad interpretation of the theme. Even at its most straightforward, the form of the loop can produce powerful and uncanny results. Paul Pfeiffer turns Hollywood horrific by transforming Tom Cruise's infamous Risky Business sofa dance into a perpetual seizurelike spasm, while Heike Baranowsky has us holding our breath while her Schwimmerin crawls ceaselessly across a never-ending pool.

The most resonant works, however, conceive of the loop less literally, mining the rich psychological and ontological implications of more allegorical kinds of repetition. In Rodney Graham's projection City Self Country Self, 2000, the artist as country bumpkin is unceremoniously welcomed to the city by a kick in the pants from his urban-dandy doppelganger. Playing with ideas of history, class, and doubling, City Self Country Self comments on the pathology of exploitation and the crueler side of human nature. Bruce Nauman's Bouncing in the Corner, 1968, treats similarly dark themes with decidedly less humor. Here the artist rocks in a corner of his studio for an hour in a kind of obsessive-compulsive endurance test, suggesting the intense isolation of artistic production--and perhaps the weighty frustration of obeying the modernist injunction to make art about art.

The tour de force is Francis Alys's Reenactments, 2000. …

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