Paul Horn. (Reviews: Houston)

By Kalil, Susie | Artforum International, January 2003 | Go to article overview

Paul Horn. (Reviews: Houston)


Kalil, Susie, Artforum International


TEXAS GALLERY

For his solo debut exhibition, "Death Metal 2000: Prehistoria," Houston-based artist Paul Horn spray painted a child's plastic playhouse in gold, dusting its roof with powdery glitter to create an air of fantasy and wonder. Inside the structure, which sat on an island of Astroturf, a golden skeleton lay sprawled on the floor, and a stack of gilded skulls filled the sink. Plastic Snoopys, robots, and other action figures lined the interior walls, and surrounding the playhouse were assemblages built from Power Wheels, plastic cars big enough for kids to sit in and "drive." Elsewhere, cardboard boxes painted white served as pedestals for stacks of old suitcases filled with tiny skateboards, fake hamburgers, and other novelty items. Here was art ready to make a move.

Horn's low-budget, carny-flavored sculptural hybrids embody a charming yet emotionally crossed-wire version of plastic's afterlife. By scavenging garage sales, souvenir shops, and dollar stores, Horn disassembles, reconfigures, and breathes new life into the junk heap of youth culture. His creations are not afraid to entertain, hooking our curiosity through a seemingly endless list of synthetic byproducts, including Big Gulp cups, Flamin' Hot Cheetos bags, and merchandising from virtually every Disney and Pixar film. Horn criticizes commodification by reveling in it--proposing the idea that in commercialism's ceaseless now-time, everything is leveled and up for grabs.

On a more personal level, the show projected the chaos of a teenager's cluttered bedroom, inducing the vertiginous sensation of a high-tension video game's labyrinths, puzzles, and confrontations. …

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