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Alexi Worth’s Photographic Paintings and Yang Fudong’s gangster video

alexi worth
Alexi Worth. One photo in the series “Couples” at D.C. Moore. I like the ambiguity in his work. Here, I think he’s evoking photography in the context of Oreo cookies — scrumptous fare but high calorie junk, too.

Libby and I were in New York for Zoe Strauss’s wonderful night at the Whitney (see Libby’s post) and we had about an hour beforehand to look at art so we said “uptown, let’s go to 57th St.”

We’d read the New Yorker blurbs about Alexi Worth‘s paintings and that drew us right to D.C. Moore Gallery to check out the playful photographically-referential work.

alexi worth
Alexi Worth. Here’s the picture where the head becomes flattened and almost like a lozenge or puzzle piece.

I don’t have a lot to say about it but the paintings I found most interesting had less to do with photography and more to do with interpersonal relationships. The artist used one composition with a bald-headed man leaning on a dark-haired woman’s shoulder several times and in several slightly different ways. Each painting was super and spoke about the space between them and also had playful references to art (in one the man’s head goes flat and becomes almost a pink lozenge…in another the woman’s hair becomes an almost Leger-like stream of dark water. More images in my flickr set. The show’s up at D.C. Moore to Oct 7.

Painterly videos at Marian Goodman

yang fudong
Yang Fudong at Marian Goodman. No snow on the broken bridge. Painterly videos referencing gangster movies or maybe Fellini, too.

Nearby at Marian Goodman Gallery we saw Annette Messager’s installation of soft pillow-y body parts all respiring together (is that a word? breathing is what I mean). The smallish, sea-creature-like inflatables raised up as one and died down as one. The lights in the room were low and there was something mournful about the whole. It was almost like being at a child’s or friend’s sickbed. You tiptoed around not wanting to wake the sleeping patient.

Annette Messager
Annette Messager. To bring into the world at Marian Goodman.

The Messager seemed rather one-note-ish. It was too spare an installation at the same time that it was almost too much. I also wondered if piling the pieces up in a heap wouldn’t have increased the impact. The idea of a towering figure made of parts all of which breathe in and out would create a threatening monumentality instead of a sense of a “let’s just put it on the floor”-compromise which is kind of what it felt like.

Yang Fudong
‘s eight-channel video, No Snow on the Broken Bridge, 2006, on the other hand, is an ambitious piece with all kinds of references to the way things are, are not, were and were not. This historical revisionism is arty. You see the young actors and actresses in period costumes — but in their closeups you see the men with 2006-issue earrings in their ears. Symbols run wild–there’s a goat and a goatherd with a white fur stole; a group gets in a boat that never really goes anywhere. People on all screens are pretty much in continuous motion, climbing up or down, as if in one of those Chinese scroll paintings where they’re all going up or down the mountain. And for all its questioning about “Who are we? and Who are you to look at us?” the piece is open. It breathes life. It is looking at itself looking at you. It’s trying to figure itself out as much as you are.

Yang Fudong and Annette Messager at Marian Goodman, both to Oct. 14