Thursday, April 20, 2006

Stephan Pascher at Steven Wolf Fine Arts

Since opening his own gallery space a year ago, Steven Wolf has offered exhibitions with a strong bent toward the conceptual. He likes art that invites discourse. He likes to relate new work to the history of conceptual art, about which he knows a good deal. The latest installment in this program is Stephan Pascher’s “Lucky Chairs 2002-2005, and other arrangements…” In the main space, five carousel slide projectors chug through 255 different images of institutional chairs that are leaned or stacked in precarious balances, like acrobats (photo above, from the gallery website). The chairs are posed in front of a wall, and shadows of their acrobatics add to the texture and reality of the images.

The press release suggests that the tricky arrangements raise questions about authenticity in an age of digital manipulation. Well, perhaps. I was more interested in them as possible symbols of our rickety economic structure. But actually for me the overall effect of this installation was not ideas but a liberation from ideas. The chug of the projectors, located at the border between annoying and soothing, seems to disrupt thought. The insistent, unstable panorama of images has a Dada absurdity that lulls logic. I was sorry there weren’t actual chairs in the midst of all this, comfy ones, where a person could sit and zone out, perhaps sipping a cocktail or smoking hashish.

In the project room are some photographs of chair stacks, but these look badly framed. Another quibble is that the improvised pedestals for the projectors were unrewarding visually, despite their adherence to the procedure for this show.

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