Thursday, March 02, 2006

Biennial

Triple Diesel crew shudderd before the intimidating long line for the Biennial opening last night, but it moved more quickly than we expected. Inside felt was energetic and enthusiastic, but crowded and overstimulating. We frequently nodded our heads, making mental bookmarks about what to examine more deeply on a return trip, when we could actually focus on the work.

Painting seems thin; Peter Doig is crammed into a corner upstairs. But 2D work is everywhere. Carter covers a big wall with his drawings and Yuri Masnyj presents a sculpture based on his geometric drawings, like an El Lissitsky kind of thing. Daniel Johnston also has some funny, diminuitive drawings.

Time-based media offers the most spectacle. Urs Fischer's installation of candles dripping wax to make a venn diagram is eerie yet brainy. Paul Chan's projection of objects and people in silhouette refers to 9/11. And the Caligula video is a blockbuster (literally). With Karen Black and Benicio Del Toro, how could you be uninterested?

Many alumni from Neville Wakefield's summer show, "Bridge Freezes Before Road," resurface here. Adam McEwen contributes fake obituaries, which appeared at the Armory Show last year. Dan Colen is here, too, as are GNY artists Aaron Young and Matthew Day Jackson. DC was also in the show Adam McEwen curated at Nicole Klagsbrun, which included Dan Colen and Center for Land Use Interpretation, also in this Biennial. Speaking of Venn Diagrams! Anyway, we wondered about Adam Helms; he would have fit in.

The Wrong Gallery's project, "Down By Law," is dense, provocative, and political. Few women appear. Does an otherwise politically critical show make up for that oversight? Weegee, whose work we just saw at Mary Boone has several photos of dystopic urban life. A Cadmus drawing depicts a violent struggle between lynchers and a victim, the latter bleeding from lacerations and punches. The composition is dynamic and bursting out, and reminded us of Michelangelo's "Crucifixion of St. Peter." Across the room is a Marcel Dzama drawing of some violent ritual. The late Mark Lombardi's last drawing is in a corner, next to Jules DeBalincourt, and under a Leon Golub print. Above them is a surveillance camera and framed passport photos of 9/11 suspects. Below is a pipe bomb sculpture. "Piss Christ" is in the center of the room, opposite of David Wojnarowicz' incendiary "This Kid" poster, which is one of our favorite works ever, causing chills on each viewing.

After some return visits, we'll post something more detailed.

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