Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Cyprien Gaillard, The Crystal World @ PS1

Damn, this is badass. So if you remember the Younger Than Jesus show at the New Museum, Gaillard had the video of Russian kids who go online to organize soccer style riots for fun (where they just find a location, dress in opposing colors and march at each other until the randomly chosen opposing sides pummel each other). He also made the video of the French housing development with a laser light show projected on it, which builds until the development is demolished. Both videos were pretty great, and as I recall, next to Ryan Trecartin, the best things in the show.

Well, those videos are in the current PS1 show, as well as a stagnant shot of kudzu (or thick bushes) with a cloud (via stolen fire extinguishers) emerging out of them, right, pretty good? Well, fuck, we aren’t even at the good part. Then bam! In one of PS1’s large open rooms is a giant projection of a video piece shot in Baghdad. Gaillard is in the desert at night with men in formal Arab dress, with a laser scope pointed at them, on the back of military Humvees, in old ruins, on a tour of a looted museum, at the gate formed from giant swords and generally gazing at modernist architecture from the 70’s, that makes everything look like a Star Wars set. All the while, on continuous loop, David Gray sings the word “Babylon” from the song Babylon. Point being, the direct cluster fuck of cultures colliding or specifically western culture colliding with Arab culture. If that wasn’t apparent in the video, David Gray in his intolerable Jason Mraz-John Mayer white boy singer-song writer belting out Babylon on repeat does drive it home. Oh, and apparently the song was used to break prisoners at Abu Ghraib.

The awkward cultural colonizing is even more apparent with the Cleveland Indians’ Chief Wahoo logo imposed on an impressionistic landscape painting, or collages made up of beer labels, pictures of hipster-hijinx and postcards of artifacts. The most effective evidence of the imposition of western culture is a video from Mexico, where rather beautiful dolphins swim along a modernist waterside hotel, a person covered head to toe in red garb does a Crip Walk on larger Mexican ruins and, most disturbingly, the camera is assaulted by a wave of shirtless spring breaker dudes who have a chug-off in a palm-lined lawn next to a hotel. Yup, the west has brought its best to the world, and all we have left behind is McDonalds and The Expendables. Sorry, the rest of the world. Oh, there is also a video of two dudes in front of some improbable architecture, diving into some surprisingly shallow water, only to arise bloodied and in pain. The video feels like a small token of self-flagellation for the chaos the west wrought throughout the rest of Gaillard’s videos. I couldn’t recommend the show more strongly, and it might not be as preachy as I’m making it sound. I spent most of the show muttering “what the fuck” to myself, so the work focuses more on the absurdity of the situation than necessarily ascribing blame.

Already Down


Post a Comment