Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Don't Tell J. G. Ballard

From a review by Daniel Belasco of an exhibition by Michael Rakowitz at Lombard-Freid gallery in New York (Art in America magazine, November).

"A second room, at the rear of the gallery, contained an interrelated set of four works on paper and four sculptures that address famous tragedies in the history of modern American architecture and industrial design. Positive Agitation (2005) typifies Rakowitz's method of doubling or tripling historical associations through clever combinations of industrial forms. The kinetic piece centered on the dust bag of a vintage Hoover vacuum that was inflated by regular gusts of air emanating from the wall via a tube connected to a car tailpipe. This breathing action seemingly mocked iconic designer Henry Dreyfuss's suicide from carbon monoxide poisoning. Elsewhere, two cartoonlike pencil drawings on vellum recounted the death of architect Louis Kahn in a Penn Station men's room. The photo-based images and droll expository texts were reminiscent of the work of Ben Katchor. The viewer could also push the button on a standard electric hand dryer, sending warm air though a plastic tube, thus inflating a small transparent version of the Twin Towers. In this engaging echo chamber of a show, architectural history repeated itself as farce."

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