This was my favorite show in a long time.
First, laboratory glassware with the ink ghosts of crowds living in it. A whole laboratory’s worth. I used to teach at a school with a great old chemistry lab, and stripped and punched and crumbled as the whole building was, the wood cabinets and the glassware were all there. What was not were the ghosts, ghosts are usually white, but these were black, the images of all sorts of things that had already happened.
Then tree paintings with levels living inside them, one level living horizontal, another vertical. Right now there are tape measure sculptures on the High Line, next to trees there are tape measures, as if trees are nothing more than what they will be, lumber, paper, and I am the worst offender, as I told a student this week, “I am a writer, wasting trees is what I do,” “Ms Schurman, those downtown Brooklyn people, they’re activists, it’s so annoying, they’re always asking why I don’t recycle paper at the copy shop.”
Cutting boards, same as we have at home (tepid white plastic, I wish we had a wooden one but I am living communally and that is what we have), and with scratches, these, lined up, are oceanscapes, somehow, how can the ocean be cut? How can it be made of slices? How can it appear on plastic? The ocean isn’t cut into anything, is it, except visually?
A flag becoming itself through red velvet ropes that are stretched, cut people out.
I rarely like art that becomes political, apart from the sense that everything is political (it is), but Yoan Capote is Cuban.
What I know of Cuba is the (eye-roll) American fetish for cigars when overseas. I know it twice, once through customs, and Before Night Falls, which mainly impressed me with the author’s fabulous sexual adventures. He kept busy.
There is a pair of scissors that somehow became Florida. To cut things up? People in Florida cut. All I know of Florida is Disney World, which is another country the same way Cuba is, maybe much the same way, that is, things are inside-out and backwards and money is different and you must be happy with yourself, as with communism. But seriously, I don’t know anything about Florida except Disney World and the Oceola rest stop where our car broke down once, we sat and played cards in a booth in the half of the gas station that used to be a diner but wasn’t, anymore.
There are doorknobs that start from one which is real, in a real door, and go up and up until they are tiny enough to swallow, with a tiny lock that isn’t a lock anymore. Maybe that isn’t political, not that it matters.
A great show is beautifully imagined and made, and think-infested, doesn’t take itself too seriously but is dead serious in its own way.
What is sort of an animal’s rib cage, but is actually from a machine that has lungs, machine lungs, inside machine iron ribs.
Glasses that become almost another pair of glasses, whatever that might mean, to see with someone else’s glasses, someone else’s face, if you have a boyfriend, you might sometimes wear his glasses, and he, yours, for a lark, you could see a little better with his but not really much, and he could only get a headache from yours, anyone else just looks like Coke bottles up, like joke glasses, with yours, even though you paid extra for the superthin lenses.
Floor to ceiling head of a man, made of metal, those are hinges, the man is That Man who is everywhere, the hinges, him, the doors all around him, like he grew out of a pile of them, the doors, the doors, the hinges, from Cuba, yes. Can you make a portrait of Fidel Castro that seems great, not shrill? In fact it is, doors are doors, doors are lost, don’t lead to anything, used to, could lead to things, are off their hinges.
Images here by me.
Yoan Capote, “Collective Unconscious” at Jack Shainman Gallery on 20th Street