Monday, January 29, 2007

The World Is Flat

Falling Cow Gallery is not quite a year old and they are presenting a show that would not seem out of place in Brooklyn, Manhattan or London. Titled, The World Is Flat, this group foray is certainly more interesting than the Tom Friedman book of the same name – which is flat in another way – but the meaning remains: things are the same everywhere. (Isn’t that what I was just saying below?) The title also ironically refers to painters leaving their walls behind and venturing out into different media that still is concerned with painterly issues. The show includes a Brit! Brits always know what they are doing and are usually good conversationalists. Chris Lawley has made a piece from straws all standing out from the wall and one from of hanging blue tarp. Deliciously low-tech this work still requires the viewer to bring something to the table. Ben Will makes artful use of duct tape (the New Paint) made fashionable recently due to the rise of Jim Lambie of Glasgow. – I’m not sure how they sell Lambie’s disco/punk influenced DIY in Chelsea and in Art Fairs, but it must keep local hardware stores in business. Talk about reconfiguring rooms with basic equipment! – Will’s main piece, “Burst” has that odd look of a non-objective thing but with the essence of installation and performance ie, the making of the thing is the thing, to quote Hamlet. Not sure exactly what to make of it, but I want to see more. Bruce Campbell’s old record player hangs on a wall in the small room looking mysterious. It covered in fake grass from a train set and is completely odd. In a completely opposite vein, his circular yarn piece near the floor conveys a Shabby Conceptuality. – Have I just coined some art-speak here? – Mauro Zamora’s projection, The Surrender, is a movie in a painting and fits into the hand-made/store-bought aesthetic. With the the repeating text, “Be Aware Beware,” this piece connected with the others in terms of mystery, backward looks and forward motion. I wasn’t quite sure what to do with all this, but I wanted to stand there a long time and work it out and that is always a good sign. Someone should go in there and buy some of it.

The fourth in a series of juried shows, Morgellons, at Fleisher/Ollman also deserves praise for simply attempting to by-pass the old model of what encompasses art in Philly. It would also look at home at any art fair. Morgellons stresses the contemporary and is full of the variety one expects in a current group shows: a nice obscurish video piece with cool soundtrack, a sillyish installation of cardboard boxes, strange collections of objects – phallic melted glass in this case – and a few naive painted works and goofy collages. The free standing piece with LED readout on stands was offay and typifies a lot of multi-media half installation. I say half because it only dominates part of the space with its table top topography. Nami Yamamoto’s delicate cut-outs are nice but haven’t I seen them before several times? The killer was Jayson Scott Musson’s piece, My Favorite White Rasta, not only because of the Wookie Star Wars connection and perfect title, but because of the visual boldness. It was also very funny, if not relevant, like all his work and only One Hundred Dollars! Well done, Fleisher/Ollman. We are all going a bit Tristan Lowe aren’t we? I should admit that I did submit work for this show and though I was not selected, I feel not the least bit burned.

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