new museum

Reflective Surfaces by Jeff Grunthaner

Reflective Surfaces

by Jeff Grunthaner

The paradox of Chris Ofili New Museum Show, “Night and Day,” is the way he makes you believe “great art” without quotes exists, while simultaneously quoting from the great tradition of art as it exists in the Western tradition. Ofili is a painter who will routinely astonish you with a painterly bravura, while yet relying on traditional almost conventional pictorial strategies to compose his work. The overwhelming question is can an artist as skilled as Ofili, a black Londoner, who from a very early stage in career found success via Saatchi and the artists he collected, actually relate to the cannon is a way that matters? It’s not like the New Museum show, which echoes a show recently exhibited at the Tate, will make or break his career, but how does it contextualize itself in \New York? Is there an audience here perhaps more or less responsive than those found in other institutions elsewhere?

Chris Ofili’s career is rooted in a kind of hybridity that makes his extreme inclination for the conventional—a centered figure, generally a portrait—into something completely else. The intrigue lies not so much in the materials listed with the descriptions placed alongside his works, as much as the way he uses the materials. One has NEVER seen glitter or elephant dung used in this way. Not in a painting. And to be honest, if you have it owes everything to Ofili’s pioneering artistry. Few painters are as sensitive to the sculptural qualities of their media (oil, acrylic, what-have-you). This is what makes his paintings so wildly present, so absorbing in a technical way that TRANSCENDS THEIR SCALE. The genius of Ofili lies in his artistry, the solitude of a painter laboring on canvas. In this respect, he is quite possibly without peer.

And yet the genius of specialization can only go so far. Ultimately, what one looks for in a work, whether one is a disinterested connoisseur or a curious newbie to painting, is whether the art lives and breathes beyond the confines in which you take it in. Market aside, it’s unlikely that anyone will leave the Chris Ofili show feeling transformed—despite the artist’s dedicated commitment to incorporating aspects of the tradition in novel, personally expressive, even visionary ways. For the New Yorker, whether she be poor and struggling or comfortable and bourgeois, the theme of a black figure on canvas is not a startling innovation, to say the least. We meet this everyday when we transfer trains, which is not to say that every artist can rival Ofili in skill (few can, in my opinion). Nevertheless, THE MESSAGE BEHIND THE WORK, if message there be, lies in some dimly lit ether-realm of the facelessness of black folk trying to adapt to a society that rebukes them for reasons purely based on race.

Otherwise stated, Ofili falls flat in relation to the political import of his work, Of course, he’s know as a “political painter,” incorporating black faces into a space otherwise reserved for whites, and doing this in a way that vies, perhaps even outshines, their venerable classical models (at least to the mediated gaze of contemporary eyes). But what exactly is the space he inserts his figures into? It’s one thing to liberate the black figure into a space already carved out for it by the cannon; it’s another completely to give such figures their own freedom. To be sure, Ofili’s figures are not thematically restricted to representations of black folk—religious and pop-culture iconography plays a heavy role. Yet everywhere he seems to casually place the image of blackness into his pieces, juxtaposing it easily into the classical maneuvers of sculptural and cubist precedents.

This makes Ofili’s work feel all to comfortable and all-too-distant is light of current events in New York and the world around. There’s a sheltered, studio-quality to the paintings that makes them as aesthetically delightful as they are innocuous. What we’re impressed by is their skill, the way they resolve themselves into compositional gestalts. We don’t really see the world through them (perhaps due to Ofili’s penchant for the visionary), nor do we even witness a world that’s a plenum of plurality. Rather, “Night and Day” gives us an extended survey of how one artist’s practice relates and reflects—not so much redacts—the tradition of “great painting” in Western Art. Not only are Ofili’s paintings wholly rooted in the Western Cannon, but despite their “exotic” materials—elephant dung, most notably, but also glitter and other reflective materials—viewers are left with nothing or less than conventions. Brilliantly wrought, but utterly traditional.

It is exactly the denial of the reflective that makes Ofili the artist that he is. His work revels in surface, in the incorporation of exceptional and even symbolic media (elephant dung, glitter) into a wholly foreign tradition. True to his inspiration in hip-hop and other areas of pop culture, he initially tended to literalize these materials—as when he performed a David Hammonsesque performance work, pandering elephant shit to a public either indifferent or excited (he sold a few pieces, and even developed a piece out of it: “Shithead” (1993). But in the end Ofili submerges his materials into something unrecognizable. To be sure, there is tactility to Ofili’s use of elephant dung that feeds into the sculptural quality of his work. But this is not a political gesture so much as an aesthetic one. What I mean to challenge is Ofili’s importance as a “political painter.”

The contrast boils down to the expressivity of faces in Ofili’s work versus their expressivity qua paintings. In a work like “The Adoration of Captain Shit and the Legend of the Black Stars (Third Version)” (1998), Ofili paints a drugged-out looking figure against a visionary-psychedelic backdrop. The figure could be a boxer, or James Brown. Either way, it’s only an inspiration. Hands of praise or struggle emerge towards the figure. There’s no trace of reality in the portrait. The real-life model whom Captain Shit is based on simply isn’t there. The painting doesn’t speak to this world, but the world of pop-culture imagery. This is less a political move than a gesture. Remapping the iconography of everyday life can only take protest so far. What’s needed is to unmake images, to locate their historical origins, not merely create a pictorial confluence of different traditions melding together. Ofili, for his nonpareil artistry, doesn’t deliver this.

 

"Here and Elsewhere" by Molly Oringer

Molly Oringer

Review, “Here and Elsewhere”

The New Museum 7/16/14-9/28/14

Given a tendency to categorize the contemporary Arab world as monolith, thoughtfully curating an immense exhibition of over forty-five artists without inserting a determinist perspective is a formidable challenge. The region’s recent events—not to be recounted here yet the subject of widespread speculation and curiosity—are ever-present in the multitude of frameworks employed to portray, explore, and understand the Middle East. Often reflections of past events, an image’s location in a museum conjures a sense of mortality: the viewer sees the piece of art as a relic rather than continually resonant. Rather than succumbing to a precious retrospection of the Arab world’s recent uprisings as valiant shortcomings, "Here and Elsewhere," organized by curator Massimiliano Gioni and encompassing the entire five floors the New Museum, ambles in terms of subject matter and medium, unhindered by subject-specific curation.Taking its name from a 1976 film by Jean-Luc Goddard and Anne-Marie Miéville, whose intentions to serve as a pro-Palestinian essay but expands to explore the consciousness and conducts of political representation, "Here and Elsewhere" consists of a myriad of artists differing widely in mediums but united loosely through their connection to the Arab world and, in some cases, its diaspora, and their varied and intersecting portrayals of Arab identities, places, and representations.

In its subtle disavowal of the totalities plaguing analyses of the Arab world—geographic generalizations and heavy exotification, to name a few—Here and Elsewhere does not insist on either overt political provocations or personal narratives. Instead, each artist’s work speaks in its own tenor, allowing for exploration from the mundane to the elaborate. Resulting is an expansion of the Arab world to encompass its porous diaspora, malleable borders, and numerous interactions with permeable identities. Musings on the fate of the Arab world—and, too, how to best cope with its past and present—are left to the devise of each artist, and remain unanswered on the scale of the exhibition as a whole.

The visitor becomes present in the exhibition immediately upon entering the lobby of the museum; it is not simply a viewing but an act of participation. Designed by the GCC “delegation” composed of nine artists, including some residing in London and New York, have transformed the space into a simulacrum of what one might imagine to be an Abu Dhabi hotel, complete with portraits of the delegation members in the style of Gulf royalty hanging above the main desk. The installation asks the visitor, encompassed in a physical representation, to consider connections between grandiose architectural and artistic state projects—in this case, Gulf political power and the construction of capitalist-nationalist symbols and their role as internationally broadcasted representations of the region. As in the posh hotels of Dubai, those responsible for, rather than an image of, the life of these symbolic spaces are absent: foreign laborers, domestic workers, and non-national residents remain deliberately invisible. By contrast, South Asian workers capture their own images by cell phone in artist Ahmed Mater’s videos, which turn to the stark juxtaposition of such symbols of Gulf nations and their often ignored underbellies: a portion of his film “Leaves Fall in All Seasons” shows a worker clinging to an enormous, gold-encrusted crescent as it is hoisted by cranes to the top of a minaret.  The Arab world is thus rendered, whether explicitly or not, as inclusive of those who make its representations possible, as anonymous as they often are.

The concept of an expandable Arab world is furthered in Bouchra Khalili’s video installation, in which each screen maps a journey taken by migrants, many whose sojourns originate in South Asia and Africa, as they traverse clandestinely to Europe. The viewer is shown only the narrator’s hand as they outline their travels on a map, including harsh layovers and mistreatment in parts of the Middle East ranging from the UAE to Morocco. The subjects of Khalili’s videos narrate the ways in which the geography of the Arab world seeps into the lived realities of those seeking refuge and work in other parts of the world, placing it in the scope of greater transnationalism and migration.

The theme of polished nationalism is revisited in Wafa Hourani’s sculptural interpretation of a futuristic refugee camp entitled Qalandia 2087 Sprawling at eye-level, the viewer is invited to walk amongst labyrinthine, dollhouse-like models. Situated adjacent to the largest Israeli checkpoint dividing Jerusalem from Ramallah, the current refugee camp sits near the site of the former Qalandia airport—closed by Israeli forces—and is surrounded by the Israeli separation wall. Hourani’s sculpture does not seem to assume any de-occupation of Palestine: the wall, rather than absent, is replaced by a mirrored, disco-ball façade. Though spaces for socializing and commerce abound in the model, it is unclear if the futuristic take on the landscape is a whimsical dream for a Palestinian future or a critique of the polished, glitzy attempts by the heavy presence of international NGOs and a defunct Palestinian government to normalize the occupation. Rather than abandoning the camp for a return to their villages and cities, the residents of Qalandia 2087 are left with cars lining spiffed-up streets and neon satellites stemming from concrete rooftops. Hourani leaves undecided whether the museumification of a distant Palestine is rendered alive through its futuristic additions or deemed dead through its permanence and glitter.

“Here and Elsewhere” stretches the viewer’s concept of the confines of the Arab world both geographically and temporally, reaching into both the archives and the future in its inquiries. Running until September 28th, it provides visitors with ample opportunity to consider the region as composed of active, layered social and political multitudes.

Ode to the Ephemeral Dead: Chris Burden @ the New Museum

Chris Burden: Extreme Measures10/02/13 – 1/12/14

New Museum of Contemporary Art 235 Bowery New York, NY 10002

212.219.1222 www.newmuseum.org

The web-content coincident with Chris Burden’s Extreme Measures retrospective has a kind of popularly accessible, pleb aspect about it. For an artist like Chris Burden—whose earliest and arguably most important works were notoriously ephemeral—this observation becomes more significant than would be the case with other artists of his generation. There’s a part of Burden’s sensibility that revels in showcasing cracks in reality’s surface, authenticating the enumeration of lists that expose the hierarchical structures underpinning individual agency. But one should also be mindful of Burden’s use of abstraction, of the ambiguous process whereby he dissolves the individual into the abstract, and sensuous particulars into standardized, quantifiable units. In the work "Triple 21 Foot Truss Bridge" (2013), for instance, design dissolves into a schizoid erector-set structure, potentially endless and wholly monotonous. This effect is deliberate on Burden’s part, and matches the trajectory of his work throughout his career, which was always directed toward making his audience feel very, very uncomfortable.

But is it worth it? On the New Museum’s website, Burden’s "Ghost Ship" (2005) comes off like an element of expressive minutia imbedded into the gestural calligraphy of a Christopher Wool canvas—an artist destined to fill the Guggenheim’s seven floors concurrently with Burden’s no less modest five-floor show. Long after docking off the coast of England, Burden’s "Ghost Ship" appears moored over the grim vista of downtown NYC. Significantly, this work was constructed in collaboration with the Marine Engineering Department of the University of Southampton; and many of the works included in Extreme Measures had their origins in design, even in a sort of logical postivism. One notes how the vaguely embossed lettering advertising the New Museum gives considered perspective to the ghost ship, speaking volumes to the place of Chris Burden’s art within the context of the museum, as well as the greater social landscape of the surrounding city.

There’s a vestigial quality to Burden’s work, which seems to slip away from directed attention the very moment it comes under exacting focus. Like a diaspora which diffusely contains divergent, even incomparable media—text, the foundational laws of physics, the bleakness of secular protest, transformer dolls, obsessively wrought erector sets—many works throughout the exhibit engaged process to such an extent that they all but disappeared, presenting now in sculptural forms, now in the temporal form of video, a fragmented vision of human ingenuity  which verged on the grotesque more than the humorous. The mixed-media "Tyne Bridge Kit" (2004) is a rather marvelous instance of this. This work is basically a desk, its drawers filled with a vast number of erector set parts. Styled like the mirror of a dresser, a photograph displays a number of professional-looking persons enjoying a completed erector-set structure in a large corporate space, the design of which is as modern as it is sterile, with artificial and natural light garishly mingling. "Tyne Bridge Kit" is a work of arrant nihilism, and lovely in this respect. All it offers is a boring life, tricked out in nauseating luxury.

Burden is a master of “high art” in quotes. His sculptural works experiment with the reconstruction of hierarchies within an established, capitalized context, yet everywhere shy away from institutional critique. I remember one work in particular…composed of stacked bags of cement, positioned like a fortress. When you looked inside the bastion, you saw stacked blocks of cement, like a seat perhaps—or maybe an unrealizable person. This latter interpretation seems more in line with the overall theme of the exhibit. It suggests an invasion into our inner lives of the weaponry and militaristic methods we use to defend our external freedoms.

Burden’s response to the pervasiveness of militarism in our society is not the “dematerialization of the object” of conceptualism, which could lead to transformative action, but that of the nihilist philosopher who refuses to look past the world’s material structures as science defines them. Consider “America,” which is a hyper-modeling of every US submarine that existed in 1987, each tiny ship hanging from a wire, like a locust swarm suspended in glycerin. The installation encloses the viewer like an environment: similar to a memorial wall, but not so much that the context of the gallery is lost sight of. The work is not about site, or place, but about the dialectic of permanence and impermanence: more concretely, of the authority of administered precedent versus individual agency. One can easily tear down the model ships, but the memorial lettering would still remain—a list abstracted from any concrete reference, a monolith dedicated to the productivity of power that labors beyond personal agency or conscience.

"Tower of Power" (1985) and "L.A.P.D. Uniforms" (1993) continue Burden’s commentary on individual agency versus administration. "Tower of Power" is a pyramid made of gold bars, encased in glass and surrounded with matchstick guards. The exhibit itself, however, was protected by real security guards at the New Museum, and real security precautions to ensure that the exhibit would in no way be tampered with. The world-within-a-world quality of the piece, which only seems to belie that conditions that sustain it, was echoed in the police uniforms that adorned the walls in one corner of the exhibit. These uniforms were emptied of personality: they were units, merely, like massive commodities from a design factory, or cookie men cut from cookie dough. They were large, looming and scary; but this viewer couldn’t imagine with any particularity the kind of monsters that could fill them. "L.A.P.D Uniforms" had the sublimity of a dinosaur skeleton: an essential part of humanity’s prehistory, but not necessarily a defining characteristic of contemporary experience.

Burden’s purer sculptural work seems intended to convey a sheer joy in construction. His "Porsche with Meteorite" (2013) balanced a restored ’77 Porsche against a meteorite of equal weight, as though natural law were ultimately the origin of human design. The question was one of balance, of space and bulk, and also the ubiquity of energies which makes art possible. Something in Burden goes beyond reference to cultural mores, grounding our experience in the cosmic, not in a mythic but in a scientific sense. Does the hopefulness of human agency enter into his work? The overall absence of distinguishing characteristics in Burden’s artifacts, their lack of any defining signature, answers this question in the negative before it’s even asked.

Jeff Grunthaner

Carsten Höller: Experience

by Emma S. Hazen

LAB REPORT: Carsten Höller: Experience

ABSTRACT

The New Museum is a laboratory and its visitors are the test subjects with the current show, Carsten Höller: Experience. In this article, I present my current research on the subject, including discussion with the exhibition's curator, Massimiliano Gioni. The museum will be conducting research onsite until January 15, 2012, and is still looking for willing participants for ongoing experiments.

 

INTRODUCTION

With a racing heartbeat, sweaty palms, and a clenched throat, I was so nauseous I almost lost my place in line to run to the bathroom while waiting to enter the circular tube, Untitled, Höller's slide instillation on the fourth floor of the New Museum. As I waited, I felt claustrophobically isolated, caught in a metal cage like the birds in the piece, Singing Canaries Mobile that  precariously loomed overhead. The solemn chirping of the live yellow birds mimicked the anxious yet excited chatter among the procession of visitors. After waiting a long half an hour as my fear of heights continued to build, I finally reached the front of the line. I held my breath, and let go. Almost immediately, my anxiousness escaped me. I screamed with delight somewhere between the fourth and third floor. But before I could even look out into the galleries below, I had already plummeted through the New Museum's floors, and was being helped out of the slide by a gallery attendant. I caught my breath and a wave of adrenaline swept through me. Suddenly, I realized my surroundings--instantly I was struck by intense, seizure-inducing flashes. My head filled with shock, adrenaline, and blinding light. I felt like Alice--as if I had fallen down past the second floor gallery, all the way into the rabbit hole.

 

 

METHODS

Carsten Höller: Experience is visceral. It is not an exhibition about what you see, but what you feel. Between the slide, the sensory deprivation tank, the upside-down goggles, and the mysterious white pills the visitor is offered to swallow with water from an office cooler, Experience is a participatory exhibition. The museum functions as a scientifically-inspired, hyperreal playground blurring the boundaries between the visitor and the art.

Like test mice running though a maze, Höller carefully orchestrates the participant's movement through the exhibition. With Mirrored Carousel, the visitor's pace is slowed down to a lethargic cyclical crawl on a carousel of suspended metal chairs, minimally decorated with fluorescent lights and mirrors. In contrast, on the same floor Untitled accelerates the visitor's velocity, propelling the viewer through previously uncharted aerial gallery space.

Due to the participatory nature of the show, waiting in line becomes a part of the experience--the museum is transformed into a space of socialization. While waiting for my chance to slide, I bonded with the women in front of me over our mutual fear of heights. To kill time while waiting for Psycho Tank, the sensory deprivation pool, the man next to me let me borrow his upside-down goggles, which he had signed a $1,500 waiver for. After emerging from the pool, a family of onlooking tourists inquired about my escapade. I even witnessed a man photographing random strangers as they shot down the tubular slide. Experience asks you to participate fully with your environment, including the people standing next to you.

 

 

RESULTS

The physicality of the show is highly captivating; as the viewer, you are unable to disconnect from the pieces. You are forced to directly engage with yourself, the art, and your social as well as physical surroundings. The art becomes inseparable from your individual experience, challenging your perception of reality.

The hyperreality of the exhibition even feels surreal at times. For example, Höller presents us with elements of nature--life-size statues of exotic animals, live canaries and fish, and giant mushroom sculptures--for us to examine in detail. Even though these animals and fungi are very apart of reality, these facets of nature normally only exist in our memory or fantasy, yet suddenly they are surreally standing before us at Experience.

Yet, the visitor is not the only test-subject, Höller equally deconstructs and examines the the museum as an institution. The New Museum's transformation into a kinesthetic science laboratory environment was quite refreshing. Carsten's inventive use of the gallery space and close attention to the viewer's movement through the show was exciting and new, toying at the boundaries--social, psychical, and psychological--between the museum, the viewer, and the art.

 

 

DISCUSSION

For greater depth into my research, I phoned Massimiliano Gioni, the associate director and director of exhibitions at the New Museum, to discuss Carsten Höller: Experience.

 

emmä: Höller commented to the New York Times, "What I’m doing is certainly not science, but maybe it’s not art, either; it’s something in between, a third thing." How did you go about curating a show that falls between art and science?

Massimiliano: I like the comment that we don't know if its art or something else, but it's not a show in between art and science. I think every good artwork hopefully redefines the definition of itself and of art in general. I'm interested in the artist and I'm interested in the fact that [Carsten] helped us redefine what art is. I don't know if its science or something else, but that's where things get interesting.

e: So you didn't think about this exhibition differently than other shows?

 

M: No, I didn't. Well, I know that Carsten's work is all about questioning what art is, and that's what I'm interested in, and he comes from a scientific background, so I guess he does do science to make art, but I think it's a stretch to say, you know, that science is a bigger deal...[Laughs]

e: For the exhibition, you had to punch holes in the floors of the New Museum to install the slide. How do you think about space when curating a show?

M: We wanted a slide, and it turned out to be more practical to drill the holes than to do it elsewhere. I think [Carsten] made it really special because it was the first time one of his slides went through a building. It was one of the most exciting elements of the exhibition. And [the slide is] a challenge, but every good artwork is supposed to challenge; sometimes it's a physical one, sometimes it's a conceptual one.

e: How did you think about the viewer's movement through the exhibition?

M: The verticality of the museum is one of its features, so I thought [the slide] was a brilliant way to address that. We liked the way the artist is presenting an artwork but also addressing the physicality of the space itself.

e: I've read you like art that doesn't make sense or you don't understand completely. Can art, like Höller's, that is based in the individual experience, ever be understood objectively?

M: I think every art[work] doesn't make total sense, I think that's why we’re in this business. [Art] is one of the only fields that not making sense is encouraged.

 

e: Is the meaning of Experience only subjective?

M: That's what the show is about. It's about testing the viewer and it's also about the viewer testing the museum. One thing that is quite exciting about the show and exiting about art in general is [Carsten] helped us readdress what the museum is supposed to be and seeing how the public uses it. Not just because [the exhibitions] are like self-experiments, but also because people are cheering in the museum. They go downstairs where the people get spit out by the slide and they are shouting for joy and clapping. There is an interesting metamorphous that the artist imposes on the institution.

And in general, if you look at the history of art and also contemporary art, you could write an alternative history of what people are allowed to do in the museum. When MoMA started, they were very hands-on, the public could touch the objects. Through the 60s with performance, the whole movement was interested in questioning the institution by bringing in live individuals and making them do things, and the public was there to see [the performance] happening. I think it's due to shock value that museums redefine themselves.

And to a certain extent, this exhibition does that, because the people go through the museum without a respect that you usually pay to artworks--it’s a very participatory experience. And that is still quite a huge violation in the way museums are conceived today where the barrier between the viewer and the object is still there. [The museum] is meant to be a space of contemplation. Carsten Höller: Experience sort of violates all of these expectations about the museum. Everybody's loud, everybody's moving around, everybody's touching the  objects. I think that's an exciting change, maybe just a temporary change, but it’s something when the institution has to rethink boundaries. Some boundaries are physical like drilling a hole, and others are more conceptual. And I think that is what ultimately what art is about, trying to redefine the boundaries of the place we look at art and how we look at it.

e: When I went to the show, I thought it was really amazing that I started talking to all of the strangers in line with me about the exhibition.

M: It's also like the museum is as social space. Carsten uses, in a way the grammar of entertainment and the public approaches the museum in a completely different and even liberating. That was a different kind of message to the museum, which is another unusual element in this exhibition. We are seeing lots of people coming who are not the art public, so I don't know what they are seeing, are they seeing an art show or something else? And I think that's something Carsten's work is very interested in.

e: Yeah, definitely. What was your experience like in the sensory deprivation pool?

 

M: I haven't tried it, actually! But I have to do it before they close.

e: I was imagining you floating around there after hours.

 

M: No, no, we do the slide a lot, but I haven't done the sensory deprivation tank yet.

e: Besides an experience, what do you hope the visitor takes away from Carsten Höller: Experience?

M: I think this show proposes the idea that you go to a museum not just to see but to also to see yourself. The museum becomes a space where the boundaries of the viewer are questioned and the boundaries between the institution and the viewer are questioned. I hope that the most valuable experience of the show is questioning these boundaries.

e: What's next for the New Museum?

M: One element that is very important in Carsten's work is the idea of the test site. The museum is a place where we try to think out the game we’re in, but the test has to end at some point. That may be the dark side, but on the other hand, I hope the viewers can bring the experience with them wherever they go.

On the practical point of view, the next show is going to be very different. It’s a group exhibition of young artists for our second triennial, and we're trying to bring to New York what New York doesn't usually see. This show is going to bring exposure and recognition to a lot of artists from very different countries such as Italy and South Africa, who are not usually shown.

e: I'm looking forward to it. Any favorite shows up right now in New York?

 

M: Well right now I'm going up to MoMA, and I don't know if its tonight or in the next few days, but they're reinstalling a piece by Rirkrit Tiravanija. I'm particularly curious about that, and also Maurizio Cattelan who is up at the Guggenheim right now. Rirkrit, Maurizio, and Carsten all grew up making work together and showing together in the 90s. Each in their different way made the point of pushing the boundaries of what is allowed in the museum--Rikirt making food in the museum and Maurizio Cattelan questioning the authority of the museum and looking at the artist as somebody who can get away with everything because he's expected to. Maurizio Cattelan's work is more about the ethics of the museum, and the way that we sometimes allow the artist to perform even illegal gestures just because the museum is a sort of the territory outside of the normal ethical boundaries. And you have Carsten who expands the boundaries in terms of entertainment and participation. I think it's quite exciting that in three different museums in New York you have three different examples of artists who all belong to the same generation and all examined and tested what is possible within the institution of the museum itself.

 

 

CONCLUSION

As I floated around in lazy circles inside the sensory deprivation pool, I began to reflect upon what I was doing on the Bowery, alone, naked, and in complete supported suspension in lukewarm salty water. Though I found some pieces in the show highly artful, was my experience in this pool art or just fun? Had I been lured to the New Museum by the prospect of a unique experience over the prospect of a unique art exhibition?

After a few swirls around Psycho Tank, I felt underwhelmed and ready to get dressed. The experience within the sensory deprivation pool, though distinct, was not as enlightening as I had hoped. Yet, as I showered and emerged from Psycho Tank with dripping wet tangled hair, I was smiling. Even though I felt some pieces in the show overemphasized the experience, eclipsing the essence of the art, I wore my messy hair as a proud signifier for Carsten Höller--physical evidence that I was indeed, experienced.