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Superheroes and monsters at the fairs

Gabe Martinez

As Libby told you in her last post, Gabe Martinez‘s wonderful performance installation at Scope blew us away. Sad and sweet, the piece was loaded with the idea of heroes shot down and unable to hold their burdens in the onslaught of the world’s tumults. Martinez who was there and described his own Herculean efforts to deal with the logistics of the piece in the face of some snafus about its placement, made a work whose beauty and scariness was enough for me. I was ready to go home after I saw the changing of the guard — I didn’t need anything more. By far, this work was the best we saw in the two days up there. And that’s not just Philly pride talking.

Christian Maycheck

That gets me thinking about other heroes and superheroes and how we kept seeing things riffing on the monstrous and the unwinnable. Christian Maycheck‘s Heman-like grey blobosaurus, for example, at Jeff Bailey Gallery booth at Pulse is one of many superhero/action figure/icons that ruled the walls at the various art fairs. We are truly in need of saviors. Although as here mostly what’s offered up is irony-clad monster-gods whose stories are evocations of silliness. The weeping muscle mass here is just sad.

Aaron Johnson

Aaron Johnson‘s big creature from Priska C. Juschka’s booth at Pulse is right out of Chinese New Year nightmares–the dragon gone bezerko. But the harlequin-like costume and lollipop colors coat the fearful/grotesque in layers of prettiness.

Chris Gilmour

My favorite monstrous savior–Chris Gilmour‘s dentist’s chair at Perugi Gallery (Padova), Pulse. Fix those teeth and all will be well in the world. I don’t know who wanted this icon of dental health/sickness but the gallerist said it was sold–$24,000.

Wim Delvoye

Wim Delvoye had a project at the Armory called Pretzel on which a number of crucified Jesus figures are attached to a kind of moebius strip/crown of thorns. This neverending instrument of torture suggests the worst kind of human monstrousness brought on by fear and loathing. And the piece, which is downright scary looking — evoking razor wire and hellish instruments — is anything but a light-hearted pretzel. I’m not sure what it means but Pretzel’s superhero(Jesus) is in no position to save anyone.

Stephan Balkenhol

I’ll close with Stephan Balkenhol‘s lovely little anti-hero Everyman, posed looking at a piece of art, hands in pockets, all rough cuts showing all over the place. As un-ironic as they come, the piece, at Mai 36 Galerie’s (Zurich) booth in the Armory, was sold at $35,000. Not bad for the little guy.

Monsters come and monsters go. We’re obsessed with them and we should be–they’re part of our Jungian unconscious; and they exist in human form all over the world. I’m for Balkenhol’s type of everyday Joe or Jane who ponders the world quietly then (and this is my fantasy) sits down, solves the problem, and makes the world a better place.