Triple Candie's current tribute to Cady Noland seeks to redress her total absense from the art scene for over a decade. And yet this curatorial attempt at "call-and-response" has been cast by Jerry Saltz as art world "identity theft" and by Ken Johnson as "confusing and duplicitous" in their recent reviews in the Village Voice and the NYTimes respectively.
Tom Moody reports:
Via MTAA comes the news that Harlem gallery Triple Candie is doing a Cady Noland survey show, consisting of re-creations of her past artworks based on the Internet and other documentary sources. The re-creations are not approved by Noland, who "dropped out" of the art world in the mid '90s but "tightly controls" her work; this is not to say she disapproves--according to the press release she simply "was not consulted or notified."
Noland is a proto-slacker, neo-scatter artist whose themes are consumerism, nihilism, and politics as refracted through tabloid media; she achieved instant notoriety in the late '80s/early '90s with installations of beer cans, machine parts, and other urban or post-industrial detritus. Triple Candie sees her as an influence on a large range of current artists, including Wade Guyton, Sarah Lucas, and Banks Violette.
I'm curious what Noland's reaction to this will be. The press release says she "haunts the art world like a ghost" while scrupulously limiting the exhibition and publication of her work. This project is kind of fascinating coming so soon after Jack Pierson pitched a fit over the sign letter sculptures at Barneys that resemble his conceptualist/assemblage works. Pierson followed Noland in the art world's every-couple-of-years "new car rollout" hype cycle (both showed at the influential American Fine Arts gallery), but he stayed in the game and became a successful market entity. Does she care that Triple Candie is doing this? Would she have the clout or stamina to stop faithful re-creations of her work (as opposed to a mere window-dresser's homage)?
And finally, doesn't Elaine Sturtevant's inclusion in the current Whitney Biennial, showing exacting Duchamp knockoffs, legitimize this project (and delegitimize Pierson's huffing and puffing)? Some interesting questions here.
Ken Johnson of the New York Times yesterday criticized the gallery Triple Candie for its show of Cady Noland re-creations. His review appears to contain significant factual errors, based on what I learned from a call to the gallery. For example, was Cady Noland contacted about the show before they did it? The gallery says no. Johnson says she was, and that she "rebuffed" the gallery. Where did he get this information? Also, he says Triple Candie was similarly rebuffed by David Hammons about doing a show of his work before they went ahead and did it, also apparently not true. These facts are important because Johnson's review reads like a smear job on the gallerists, suggesting they do shows motivated by personal spite. Here's what the Times published: [Link]
[...] The show isn't just about creating a room of uncanny perfect copies, a la Sturtevant's Duchamps. It's also about whether recreating an art based on past ephemera is possible. And of course, whether the participation of the artist is essential in displaying work based on available materials. The artists have published detailed notes of how much or how little they were able to redo given their budget and the vagaries of finding (or re-finding) manufactured items from 20 years ago. They are completely up front in the press release that these pictures are based on, among other things, pictures on the Internet. In his hatchet job on the show, New York Times critic Ken Johnson doesn't mention that the Web was one of the sources used, thus writing out of history the rather important theme of how we rely on Google seaches and cyber-facsimiles to give us our sense of history. It's quite possible that the photos above will show up in Google Images next to jpegs of actual Nolands. Is that good? Bad? Johnson doesn't go there.
An odd contradiction in Johnson's review: in the first paragraph he mentions that Triple Candie is a non-profit gallery, and then later says the show "might raise questions about art and commerce" (that is, if the gallerists didn't have such bad motives). He is projecting a set of intentions on them that differs from the ones they announced, and then slamming them for failing (or is it not failing?) to live up to them. [...]
[...] Boycott Triple Candie? That has got to be the most obscenely stupid thing I have ever heard. What are you going to do? Stop not giving them money? Stop not bringing all your friends to the openings? Stop not helping them install shows? Great. I can't wait to not see you around there anymore. With friends like you, who needs friends?
It saddens me to see fans and writers and critics displaying such a lack of flexibility when it comes to engaging the topic of replication, reproduction, approximation in absentia, ... alternative modes of production, folks. It's not like we haven't been here before. A million goddamn times.
What interests me is how exciting this feels. I haven't been this excited about a show and its ramifications in a very long time. [...]
...read the entire exchange between "Amory Blaine" (a pseudonym from F. Scott Fitzgerald, as Tom Moody points out) and Brian Sholis, excerpted by TM:
Brian Sholis vs. Amory Blaine
"Cady Noland Approximately'": Sculptures & Editions, 1984 to 1999
461 West 126th Street, Harlem
Through May 21