At two venues, New Yorkers can currently experience the politically tinged work of Copenhagen art collective Superflex. The provocative work of Jakob Fenger, Rasmus Nielsen and Bjørnstjerne Christiansen often tackles economic or civic problems, and sometimes invites participation by viewers. Superflex's project "Bankrupt Banks" (begun in 2011) is an ongoing series of 79-inch square banners painted with the logos of failed financial institutions. Referencing battle standards, protest signs and corporate design culture all at once, these semaphores of soon-to-be-forgotten institutions are currently on view at Peter Blum Gallery Chelsea.
As curator of public art at both the High Line, a public park in Chelsea, and the Frieze New York art fair, Cecilia Alemani is one of the city's leading commissioners of public art.
Alemani is the Donald R. Mullen, Jr Curator of the High Line, the newish public park in Manhattan's Chelsea neighborhood, embedded in a neglected elevated rail line. The High Line has commissioned ambitious public art programs, including, most recently, billboards by Anne Collier. Among the High Line's opportunities for the presentation of contemporary art are a 25-by-75-foot billboard at 18th Street and 10th Avenue, and a building on 22nd Street, where they project films.
Every year, 20,000 square miles of earth are desertified: plant species are destroyed, the ground turns to dust and life is made near impossible. In David Brooks's Art Production Fund commission, Desert Rooftops, an installation on the corner of 46th Street and 8th Avenue, desertification is compared with suburban sprawl.
This chilling sculpture is a near-perfect representation of a suburban house sunk directly into the ground, up to its roof. The deconstructed house covers an entire building lot, with impossible angles and uncanny elevations studding the roof. Its huge expanse is too much to take in at once, but the gates are occasionally open for visitors to wander amongst the gables.
At Mark Handforth's show "Rolling Stop," at the Museum of Contemporary Art North Miami open through Feb. 19, quotidian objects become liturgical icons in the church of secular culture.
"I believe deeply in art," Handforth told A.i.A. "I believe it has a higher purpose. [So] I'm trying to speak in an available language." Like an apostle for art, he proselytizes through interventions in public space. He is best known for his large, playful sculptures that anthropomorphize or otherwise distort everyday objects-but the new works sally forth into a fresh landscape of fluorescence and neon. It's appropriate for Handforth's first show in recent memory in his native Miami, where a building without neon is hardly a building at all.
Margaret Lee is an artist, curator and art dealer whose practice is shaped by collaboration and ideas of the readymade. In 2009 Lee founded the alternative space 179 Canal, which reopened last year down the street as a commercial gallery called 47 Canal. Some of the artists she shows are her collaborators as well, and her curatorial projects often include them or their joint projects.
Lee's current solo show at Jack Hanley features a large, painted-jungle curtain with a Frank Gehry-like curve to it. Lee has frequently made simulacra, like individually cast potatoes, hand-painted to look like perfect replicas of the original. Here there's a cast and hand-painted watermelon, a zebra skin made on painted linen mounted to the wall with upholstery braids, and a color photograph that has the watermelon and a boot in it, positioned against white tile. The jungle motif stands in for dark questions about the future, recalling a prehistory (or post-apocalyptic vision) where humans fight for survival amongst a tangle of menacing flora and fauna.
Two slide carousels, 80 slides each, approx. 9-minute loop. Courtesy Callicoon Fine Arts, New York.