Tuesday, December 30, 2014

“Transatlantic Transparency” at Mathew

Transatlantic Transparency at Mathew New York
(“Transatlantic Transparency” at Mathew New York, Berlin)

In the intentionally bathetic ending of Lerner’s novel (quoted in the press release) the Poet, throughout stricken with self-reflexive paralysis, described by one reviewer as an “examination of just how self-conscious, miserable, and absurd one man can be” arises from the dream of his Madrid fellowship discovering his problems somehow gone the moment he leaves them.
Not that there's anything wrong with that. The exhibition's formalism is criticism only in the sense of contemporary art's allergy to the word, but of course Wilde’s “It is only shallow people who do not judge by appearances...” and so. Appearances are politics, and in an age where the image replaces thought, the formalism often exists as an interesting necessary tool. So why does this exhibition feel so defeated before born? Like the press release, it itself uses its stylistic assemblage to bog itself in its own mire, only to get sad about it, defeated by its own appearances.

HE HAD ENOUGH RESPECT FOR PAINTING to quit. Enough respect for quitting to paint. Enough respect for the figure to abstract. For abstraction to hint at the breast. For the breast to ask the model to leave. But I live here, says the model. And I respect that, says the painter. But I have enough respect for respect to insist. For insistence to turn the other cheek. For the other cheek to turn the other cheek. Hence I appear to be shaking my head No.
-Ben Lerner from Angle of Yaw.