Garry Neill Kennedy and Joanna Malinowska
SHIT HAPPENS/“In Search of the Miraculous, Continued…”
CANADA April 29–June 4, 2006
SHIT HAPPENS/“In Search of the Miraculous, Continued…,” the two-person exhibition of Garry Neill Kennedy and Joanna Malinowska, pairs two artists whose work resists the proverbial Easy Read. Both artists make art that responds intellectually and perceptually to the conditions of its site. Kennedy, a well-known figure in the Canadian art world, takes for his site the interior of the gallery. For the gallery Canada,* he produced an elegantly exuberant system-based wall painting, reminiscent of the work of Daniel Buren and Lawrence Wiener. Malinowska chose artmaking sites ranging from the exotic (a remote location on Baffin Island) to the everyday (the D Train as it passed over the Manhattan Bridge). Her contribution to the show consisted of a rough, honeycombed “hut” made of soundproofing foam and 2×4s that camouflaged stacks of equipment and looped videos.
Using the tenets of system-based painting, Kennedy transforms the white cube into a space that dazzles with the graphic confidence of late-Modernist abstraction and the combustion of agitprop. Set in a blocky, stylized font called “Superstar Shadow,” the phrase “SHIT HAPPENS” is painted in gigantic letters that span the entire gallery from floor to ceiling. The phrase is indecipherable at first glance. Instead, flat, hard-edged shapes of red, beige and green draw our attention to the quirky architecture of the room. The commercial house paints in Kennedy’s palette are selected for their tasteful, complimentary hues as well as their evocative product names (“Persian Gulf,” “Persian Green,” “Arabian Night,” and “Arabesque”). Punctuating the wall painting in various locations, large squares composed of bold, patriotic stripes key us into the artist’s intention: these are the oversized replicas of the commemorative medal ribbons awarded to the U.S. military for duty in the Global War on Terror and Service in Iraq. Kennedy reinvigorates the connection between politics and abstraction by using the pleasant, domesticated Orientalism of home décor to foreground the pumped up signs of a futile war.
Kennedy’s meticulous wall painting acts an astringent foil for Malinowska’s flirtation with chance operations. Paying homage to the mythic performance artist Bas Jan Ader, “In Search of the Miraculous, Continued…” is comprised of four loosely related videos. All four works investigate the artist’s own relationship with the unexpected and commonplace, playing the thin edge between the random and the staged. “Part I” shows an “accidental” encounter outside of Carnegie Hall between a glamorous woman and celebrated pianist, Piotr Anderszewski, who becomes an unsuspecting actor in Malinowska’s drama. In “Part III (Preaching Avant Garde to a Commuter),” a woman resembling pianist Margaret Leng Tan “plays” John Cage’s 4’33” on a toy piano to a car packed with oblivious subway riders. “Nunat Erucilkai – A Village Without Daylight” closes in on the irregular pulse of an energy-saving light bulb being manually switched on and off. Looking like a parody of early abstract art film or a light experiment by Moholy-Nagy, the common, florescent coils mysteriously glow and fade into the darkness as a strange, disembodied voice retells an Inuit folktale in the Yupik Eskimo dialect. In “Part II,” one continuous shot bears down upon the incandescent landscape of the Canadian tundra. Center screen, a solar-powered boom box plays Glenn Gould’s “Goldberg Variations.” The artist’s sly preoccupation with the conditions of art making is beautifully encapsulated here. In hopes that future travelers might stumble across this gorgeous piece of music, Malinowska has planted a flimsy piece of technology deep into an unforgiving landscape. Whether the boom box has already broken down or has miraculously recharged itself, broadcasting Glenn Gould into perpetuity, we will never know.
*It’s no coincidence that Canadians exhibit so often at Canada. However, there is no relationship between Canada, the gallery, and Canada, the government.
Carrie Moyer is a Brooklyn-based painter.
Lisa Slominski’s Nonconformers: A New History of Self-Taught ArtistsBy Jo Lawson-Tancred
JUNE 2022 | Art Books
Building on the history of Outsider art dating back to the 1970s, this book dives into the implications, limits, and paradoxes of the popular and problematic label. Placing the emphasis on the artists themselves and the formal properties of their work, the book foregrounds their practices over excessive biographic detail.
In Search of Shared GoalsBy Dylan Pickus
MARCH 2021 | Theater
With grace and humility, Dylan Pickus offers insight into the work of a theater administrator and how he and his office-job peers have both served and failed artists in their greatest year of need. Sharing a perspective not often articulated, Dylan gives voice to the privileged positions of theater administrators, and the north stars that guide him.
Singing in Unison:
Artists Need to Create On the Same Scale That Society Has the Capacity to Destroy
JUNE 2022 | Art
Rail Curatorial Projects is proud to present Singing in Unison: Artists Need to Create on the Same Scale that Society Has the Capacity to Destroy, a multi-venue series of exhibitions that aims to foster social unity in light of the recent political climate and the COVID-19 pandemic. The works shown in these exhibitions exemplify the breadth of the creative world, with artists who are taught and self-taught, young and old, and hailing from every corner of the globe. Singing in Unison is a timely endeavor that celebrates the power of art as a public site to stage programming, including poetry readings, music and dance performances, panel discussions on the subject of democracy, and cooking performances by Rirkrit Tiravanija. All of this is done with the aim of enhancing the art of joining in our various communities and to bring people together.
On-Site: Major Paintings by Rackstraw Downes & Stanley LewisBy Alfred Mac Adam
JUNE 2023 | ArtSeen
In a bygone age of college football, Doc Blanchard Mr. Inside, and Glenn Davis Mr. Outside made headlines for the West Point Military Academy team winning several championships with their backfield game, running the ball on the inside and carrying it on the outside. Theyve now been replaced by a couple of landscape painters: Stanley Lewis on the inside and Rackstraw Downes on the outside. Both are plein-air artists; together, they take the landscape tradition in a new direction. Unlike the Hudson River School painters, they are not consecrating a virginal New World landscape, nor are they following the lead of Corot, creating beautifully rendered but imaginary places. They do not seek the picturesque, or endeavor to subjugate wild nature to artistic will. These two find placesor perhaps the places find themin nature overtaken by human beings, devoid of the picturesque, and that no one, most certainly, would ever call virginal.