Cornfabulation – Curry and Hawkins at Kordansky
There is relentless good cheer at the Cornfabulation exhibition, a sense of boys having fun with their brightly colored toys. There is also an underlying feeling that none of this play would survive outside its own fun house atmosphere and that perhaps this work is too cynical to survive except through the intervention of a culture that is on spiritual life support.
On the other hand, it is such a good party to visit!
Walking around the galleries I felt like I was inside one of the haunted house sculptures that Hawkins has been showing for a few years and my mind wandered to a book that I have long heard associated with the artist – Joris-Karl Huysmans’ À rebours, with its tale of Jean Des Esseintes, a decadent end-of-the-line aristocrat who decorates his house in fabulous manner, with arcane and barbarous cultural artifacts. (My use of ‘barbarous’here quotes from a wonderfully overheated Wikipedia entry for the novel.)
This thought sure fits: the gallery is breathlessly decorated – with wallpaper made by the artists, sculptures, and collages that are titled “Trophy” and that might be record albums displayed on the wall, and might also be the remnants of somebody’s prey. A nasty business, this art making.
Hawkins’ work has for years made use of magazine ads, pop music literature and other printed pop culture sources as mines of images of young boys, which the artist then objectifies as pretty foci of desire. That these boys may defensibly be presented to us as young men (and therefore adults) shouldn’t be any comfort to us, we whose culture allows the original objectification to happen in the first place, nor to the artist, whose work flashes the crime back upon us. IMHO, to use web jargon.
Aaron Curry’s drinking buddy take on Modernism makes me squirm, too. Modernist sculptors did a very good job of parodying themselves before they all gave up the ghost, I don’t see why we need to look at funny fuck ups of bad Alexander Calders, with screenprinted wood-grain and gouache sweat beads. Sometimes getting the joke is taking things too seriously.
With all this said, I can easily see an entire room of this stuff installed at MOCA or any other museum of currently popular art – even the kids will like it! And if parents have to squirm because some of the sexual references that are lost on them aren’t lost on their kids – well, there you go. Fix your culture or live with it. And the gift shop will be right outside!
David Kordansky Gallery webiste: http://www.davidkordanskygallery.com/