Sunday, November 24, 2013

Four Lives @ Field Projects

An odd little group show at Field Projects, which describes a lot of what I’ve seen there. Like many smaller, often Brooklyn-based art spaces, Field Projects puts on lots of group shows, and they are often a little mixed. Where without fail, there are something I don’t like, but more times than not, I walk out a little perplexed with work form the show stuck in my head. That might not sound completely complimentary, but I am not sure what else you can hope for from a group show than to walk away thinking about the art. Four Lives is no different. I wasn’t that into Eileen Maxon‘s video of young people defining irony. On paper that sounds enjoyable, but in execution I found it not terribly articulate nor the people necessarily engaging in their answers. Also I was just annoyed to find I completely missed the overt Reality Bites reference.  But I loved Julia Sherman‘s video of what appears to be an emaciated old woman, a former beauty queen, who has fallen on hard times, reenacting her former glory in a dilapidated room. In the video, the woman wanders around a darkened room, which is paired with vintage footage of a younger woman winning a beauty contest. Each woman beautifully mimes the movements of the other. It’s a simple and straightforward comparison, where age is always mildly tragic, but when you attach your identity to your physical appearance, age becomes tragic on a more Greek chorus kind of level. It is a strong and effective video that leads nicely into Gina Dawson’s watercolor portraits of her family sequenced in the order of their suspected deaths (apparently the dog doesn’t have long to live). In a macabre almost Anne Rice-ish touch, the work is overrun by little ivy leaves made from paper. There is also a droopy sign announcing that everything will be all right, which sadly announces that everything will certainly not be okay, especially apparently for her dog. Courtney Childress’s nice table supported by magazines combined well with the decorum of the aging beauty queen’s room. The irony video still seemed a little unresolved in a show with an aging beauty queen and a dying family, but the show certainly left me thinking about mortality and people dying and what good art that makes.

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