Monday, March 8, 2010

Another Devastating Review That I Liked
Josephine Meckseper, Blaffer installation view, swiped from KUHF (I hope they don't mind--I am a member)

There was a show at the Blaffer Gallery Josephine Meckseper. I saw it late last year and thought it was kind of bad. Now what I should have done was to take notes about why I thought it was bad. Instead, I was too lazy. Fortunately, Michael Bise wasn't.
I thought Meckseper’s exhibition at the Blaffer Gallery was one of the worst shows I’ve seen there. A hipster pastiche of Hans Haacke and Haim Steinbach, Meckseper situates various images and objects that have to do with politics, advertising and the capitalist economy’s strategic conflation of the two, on shelves and in display cases that reference museum vitrines and department store windows. In addition to her exhibition at the Blaffer, Meckseper also created a razor-sharp critique of capitalism by designing a window display for the Houston Galleria’s Neiman Marcus. (Michael Bise, Glasstire, February 2010)
Bise definitely wasn't lazy like me!
But the fact that I’ve seen the Meckseper show half a dozen times and haven’t come away with much more than he did leads me to believe that there’s not much more there.

Young trust-fund artists from premium graduate schools have increasingly thrown themselves prostrate at the feet of Frankfurt School-style critical theory, offering up their tender nether regions in support of whatever social or cultural agenda the academic left finds currently fashionable. Rather than attempting to create visual art that is complicated and contrarian enough to allow new meaning to grow out of it, their work, like Meckseper’s, is created as an illustration of already baked — sometimes only halfway — ideas from the reading lists of tenured professors like [Semiotext(e) founder Sylvère] Lotringer who haven’t had to worry about making rent or paying for prescription drugs in a long time.

The problem is that neither Meckseper nor Lotringer will even claim her work as political. In an interview on KUHF’s Front Row, Meckseper asserted that her work was to be viewed ironically (whatever that means), while Lotringer claimed in his lecture that her work was not about politics but about the question of whether politics can be addressed by art. From a red, white and blue carpeted hallway to a silver showroom dummy adorned with a protest sign and a tiny American flag juxtaposed with a menorah, it’s pretty clear that Meckseper is not only addressing politics with art, but is doing so about as thoughtfully as Glenn Beck with a piece of chalk.
OK, it's unfair for me to present such large, undigested chunks of someone else's work. Cowardly even--if I have such a poor opinion of Meckseper's show, I should say so in my own words. Mea culpa.

My words in this case would do little more than echo Bise's--this show struck me as lazy and flabby. Seriously, if someone wanted to create art installations that made fun bad political art, they'd look like this. I saw neither incisive analysis nor heart on display here.

So thank you Michael Bise for being such a hard-ass, and thanks Glasstire for publishing this highly entertaining take-down.

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