Brave new world emerges at Pageant

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Jesse A. Greenberg
Jesse Greenberg unloaded a bunch of these all over every horizontal surface in the gallery

Isskustvo Transmagica Provinces Animanina may be a bewildering title for an art exhibit, but the objects in the show at Pageant Soloveev Gallery are equally bewildering–and wonderful. I felt like I was walking into a space filled with gifts.

Pageant once again proves to be a gallery you can’t pin down, putting together a juried show of four emerging young artists that sparkles with alternative universes and alternative life forms that are the opposite of the plodding online parallel universe of Second Life. Instead these young artists use to world we know take off for parts unknown.

Jesse A. Greenberg
Jesse A. Greenberg, Binx Invitational Wall Unit, plastic, foam, rubber, urethane, mylar, paint, wood, steel, acrylic, plexiglass, aluminum, fabric

Jesse A. Greenberg’s small cast what-is-its of gum-drop-y resinous bits are scattered all around the edges of the place, resting atop radiators and window sills and shelves, looking like unnameable toys awaiting installation under some plastic Christmas bush. They made me think of Alan McCollum’s multiple ingots, but Greenberg’s are playful, and they are multiplying and mutating faster than fruit flies.

Greenberg, who Roberta wrote about here, in one gallery room installed a sort of anti-Ikea arrangement of lamps and shelves and such, bizarre enough to barely suggest the household-goods inspirations. He also created a flashy object of wood, goop and found gewgaws that looks like a slot machine married to a tanning lamp, with a handlebar mustache hanging underneath.

Kate Norton
Kate Norton, Miner VA

Not quite so playful but equally mysterious are the hanging creatures and landscapes suggested by Kate Norton’s assemblage sculptures–one with what looks like a heating unit radiating from its center with red, feathery ears and stuffed, hanging appendages; one an enormous, architectural framework held up by knotted fabric lianas; one a chair-like fabric construction with crocheted appendage hanging from a wire–suggest alternate modes of survival in a strange world.

Kate Norton, Sprinkle Toes
Kate Norton, Sprinkle Toes

The tumbling architecture of Sprinkle Toes reminds me of Sarah Sze, with its tenuous and delicate hold against gravity. The art works’ titles suggest creatures–Yellow Bellied Black Bones, Sprinkle Toes and Miner VA.

Nick Lenker
Nick Lenker, Untitled/Piggy Bank, archival pigment print

Nick Lenker’s two enormous, sexy digital pigment prints are photo collages of man as beast–one a pig surrounded piles of gold coins, whipping little naked slaves to help him amass still more. The other, equally cinematic, is a wolf, a man-beast crouching and slouching toward Bethlehem, with prominent genitals hanging down. Both make me think of Cecil B. DeMille, with the enormous crowd scenes of tiny extras looking like an army of ants beneath the giant scale of the wonders of Egypt. These works are allegories of power, greed and sex.

Sarah Everton
Sarah Everton, Bear and Skier (left), Countries Where Black Bears are Found (right), oil and graphite

Drawings by Sarah Everton of animals have a deadpan, DIY vibe. Bear and Skier, and Countries Where Black Bears are Found are both Olympics posters gone wrong. There’s a strange, celebratory quality mixed with threats in these images, in which bears star with laurel wreaths and a lot of scary red. Her Majestic Double Bunny is a mutant resting uncomfortably on stilt-like pedestals in a forcefield with religious overtones. These works express anxiety about values we blindly embrace.

Sarah Everton
Sarah Everton, Majestic Double Bunny, pen, ink, markers

This exhibit, which is as dark as any I have seen in the past year, also manages to inject bright notes. Greenberg has a jaunty optimism and playfulness in his manic creations and Everton has a sweetness and a belief in the natural world that helps to keep my spirits up. Norton seems to be creating a foothold for mankind in the outer reaches of a universe that operates under different rules. Lenker’s predatory seX-men, however, do not move on to some brave new world. The mutant man-beasts look back to fables, fairy tales and bestiaries. They are moral tales of the digital age.

Tags

jesse greenberg, kate norton, nick lenker, pageant gallery, sarah everton

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