Magazine article Artforum International

Andrea Bowers. (Reviews: New York)

Magazine article Artforum International

Andrea Bowers. (Reviews: New York)

Article excerpt

SARA MELTZER GALLERY

Andrea Bowers's art wears its influences on its sleeve. References to Minimalist dance and sculpture abound in the Los Angeles-based artist's third New York solo exhibition: Robert Morris, Yvonne Rainer, and Simone Forti were all touchstones here, though Donald Judd seemed the true guiding spirit. Indeed, in a grid of source material Bowers framed as part of the show, a quotation by Judd looms large: "Form is a wobbly word to use because form and content is a false division derived from another false division, thought and feeling." Following this logic, Bowers has made the investigation of "false divisions" the subject of her art, though she updates Judd's terms for the contemporary situation. In previous works--specifically videos and drawings of crowds at sporting events--Bowers explored the divisions between individual and collective identity by focusing on the contingencies of difference. This exhibition continued her investigation of the society of spectacle by tackling the ever eroding boundary between the physical and the virtual.

An arcade game called Virtual Arena is the point of departure for Bowers's most recent project. In the game, the movements of (human) players are translated by a full-body motion sensor into a "virtual arena" where their digital alter egos fight against fictional characters. Bowers filmed individual players from the side, with the resulting videos showing them silhouetted against the sensor array's blue neon, kicking and punching unseen opponents. She then incorporated this footage into her sculpture. For example, in the exhibition's centerpiece, Box with Dance of Its Own Making, 2002 four monitors are set into Judd-like metal tubes that hang from the ceiling. Looking into the tubes to watch the players physically exert themselves in response to the ebb and flow of digital combat is at once humorous and haunting. On the one hand, the silhouettes look as if they were clumsily following the choreography of Rainer or Morris (Bowers's title explicitly nods to a similarly titled work by the latter); at the same ti me, their flailing offers a dystopic preview of our collective future physical isolation. …

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