Monday, January 5, 2015

“The Contract” at Essex Street

"The Contract" at Essex Street
(“The Contract” at Essex Street)
Artists: Jay Chung and Q Takeki Maeda, Maria Eichhorn, Wade Guyton, Hans Haacke, Park McArthur, R. H. Quaytman, Cameron Rowland, Carissa Rodriguez

Haacke’s overt literalism was due to its merely exposing what was read between lines, its belief in the act of transparency. Oddly everyone in this exhibition - which takes its title in reference to Haacke - makes work that is overtly opaque, obfuscating and mysteriorizing itself in the opacity of its use of cultural symbols. If Haacke’s work was about transparency in the value extracted from art objects, the rest of the work in the show is about contemporary art’s extraction of value/content from culture, complicit in its own theft of value, “borrowing” symbols that were never lent. While appropriation foregrounds its act of theft, this exhibition’s implicit form is a possibly insidious version that guises itself as a form of critical doubling. Quaytman’s “borrowing” of Andrea Fraser’s most vertiginous performance, reprinting it under her own brand image - even if old orchard friends - placing even what has become her logo over the top of the image, what is this but a strange form of theft among friends? Is this exhibition an homage to "Haacke’s" seminal contract, which attempting through transparency to ink slight power to artist’s, or a simple vampiring of cultural capital of it, placing artists, literally, around it as if osmotically credibility it would absorb.
"Haacke’s" poster, contract, and idea was free; I can’t imagine anything else in this show is.