Dash Snow: Rivington Arms
Wilson, Michael, Artforum International
Dash Snow's reputation precedes him: He's one of those artists whose name is invariably prefixed by the words "bad-boy" and who does little to live down the epithet--in fact, he courts it by making constant reference in his art to a prodigiously debauched lifestyle (his installation in this year's Whitney Biennial, for example, featured a mirrored record edged with a line of cocaine). The twenty-five-year-old Snow's recent exhibition at Rivington Arms provided the first chance since his solo debut at the gallery to--just maybe--examine his output in depth without the intrusion of undue hyperbole.
While last year's "Moments Like This Never Last" concentrated on Snow's Polaroid photographs--no-holds-barred studies in street life that saw him aligned with Nan Goldin, Larry Clark, and Ryan McGinley--"Silence Is the Only True Friend That Shall Never Betray You" concentrated on his collages, which are arguably less confrontational. But this exhibition, casually hung and unaccompanied by any written information, retained an air of calculated chaos despite an oddly genteel first impression resulting from the objects' weathered surfaces and muted tones. Of the eighty-three(!) works named on the checklist (still a work-in-progress on my second visit), all but three were made this year, and most are cobbled together from grungy found materials. Cigarette butts feature prominently.
A typical Snow collage takes the form of a teetering stack of words and images clipped from newspapers and magazines pasted onto a sheet or sheets of yellowing paper torn from an old book. The images generally include figures (often masked, naked, or brandishing weapons), an allusion to one of the artist's countercultural heroes (an unimpeachably credible list that counts Aleister Crowley, Genesis P-Orridge, Kenneth Anger, and Harry Smith among its members), and a scattering of punkish cut-up text (at times identifiable and cogent, at others not). …