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Temple and Empathetic

Jesper Just
from a video by Jesper Just

Just when the Philadelphia art world feels like it might be contracting, a bunch of new galleries suddenly pop up all over the place, and Temple Gallery reopens in its new digs on 3rd Street, around the corner from the Painted Bride, with an ambitious show that pries open Philadelphia art-in-a-box by bringing us a whiff of the international and national art world.

I especially loved the videos that alluded to popular cinema and television.

Jesper Just
from a video by Jesper Just

Danish artist Jesper Just’s videos express operatic emotions via pop love songs. The musical pining shakes up noir depictions of isolated men, adding up to a level of drama rarely depicted in art videos. The visuals are elegant.

Kalup Linzy
from one of Kalup Linzy’s episodes of All My Churen

On the tv side of things, Kalup Linzy’s mini-soaps of love and angst among the transvestites are hilarious. Will Taiwan say yes to Harry? What will grandma and mamma think? Linzy plays numerous roles in each segment in the series, entitled “All My Churen,” highjacking the lily white soap world of stylized heterosexual heavy breathing, for a world of black men vamping. The switching is made in heaven.

Paul Chan
Paul Chan, from his series, The beginning of love the end of law, a series of drawings depicting Judas kissing Jesus

On the drawing side, Paul Chan’s smoky drawings pull in tight on classic images of Judas kissing Jesus. The cinematic-closeup intimacy raises questions about the meaning of that kiss–to us and to the two men involved. Politics are part of the mix, too.

Jennifer Allora & Guillermo Calzadilla
CalzadillaAmphibious (Login Logout), a video by by Jennifer Allora & Guillermo

There’s more video. For one, Amphibious (Login Logout)by Jennifer Allora & Guillermo Calzadilla, an American/Puerto Rican team, shows displaced turtles taking a log ride down China’s Pearl River, amid container ships and other evidence of China’s industrial boom.

CarianaCarianne’s notary public seals on display in their installation Witness to a Social Drawing

The installation artists in this exhibit also make use of video. CarianaCarianne’s video of Cariana negotiating with her other self, Carianne is part of an installation documenting the artists and their double identity in one body. Pedro Lasch, whose interactive identity masks we last saw a version of at the Mutter Museum (see Roberta’s post), have taken on a new life and richness of meaning at this sorry moment in time when the country is all worried about illegal aliens. Lasch is Mexican. Like CarianeCarinne’s installation, this one is hard work, with lots to read and consider.

Pedro Lasch
Pedro Lasch asks us to consider Michael Jackson’s mask (left in video) in light of his mirrored masks (right) in his piece Naturalizations.

Other work in the show include an installation with video by Pia Lindman in which she mimicks and draws gestures from New York Times photographs; a cardboard sculpture by Rachel Owens of coyotes in Central Park with trash and falling water; and a poster and video installation by Trisha Donnelly, whose work is too dry and cerebral to carry much empathy.

Pia Lindman
Pia Lindman’s drawings for her New York Times Project, 09/02-09/03

This exhibit is not only the inaugural exhibit of Temple Gallery’s new space (which is terrific–spare and flexible, with great video rooms), but it’s the inaugural exhibition of a new “Emerging Curators” series, a biennial program which will feature projects by young professionals. Curator Elizabeth Thomas lives in Pittsburgh. More images in my Flickr set.