Founded in 2007 and co-produced by the French Institute Alliance Française (FIAF), the Crossing the Line festival [through Oct. 14] this year features 18 international artists who extend the boundaries of various art forms—theater, dance, performance, visual art and music. FIAF's New York artistic director, Lili Chopra, produced the first edition of the annual festival, and this time co-organized the program with FIAF curator Simon Dove, and Bard College performance chair Gideon Lester.
Perhaps the centerpiece of Yan Pei-Ming's exhibition "Black Paintings" at New York's David Zwirner Gallery is Exécution, Après Goya (2008), which was inspired by Goya's The Third of May 1808 (1814). The latter famously depicts Spanish troops firing on civilians who took part in an uprising against the French occupation of their country. Ming's interpretation-unique in this dark show for its bold red paint-dramatically wipes out the background. The work evokes an almost visceral response of fear from viewers, while removing some of the dead bodies from the foreground of the picture, replacing them with blotches of white paint.
Other paintings relate more generally to Goya. In All Crows Under the Sun are Black! (2012), a shadowy image of the Acropolis of Athens is shrouded in layers of black paint, an ominous flock of birds hovering above. The work alludes to Greece's current fiscal crisis and an ancient Chinese proverb, "all crows are black under the sun," often interpreted as suggesting people everywhere are the same. The theme of universality permeates the exhibition: Moonlight (2012) captures the frailty and anxiety of small human figures adrift in an unsteady boat on a vast expanse of dark, shadowy sea. Ming explained to A.i.A. that he wanted to represent the plight of illegal immigrants.
Collage and acrylic on paper, thread, string, plastic lid
48 x 30 ¼ in.