New York City Entering the P.S. 1 exhibition ‘Jonathan Horowitz: And/Or,' one is greeted by an official portrait of President George W. Bush. The framed headshot, with the naïve, toothy grin, salt and pepper hair, and chipmunk-like cheeks of his first term, is flipped upside down as if the former president were dangling from an inverted crucifix like an ancient Roman prisoner suffering the most insulting form of death-by-state. One might think that somewhere deep in our constitutional by-laws there exists rules for hanging official portraits, just as there are rules against the maltreatment of the United States flag. Leave your Republican Party membership cards at the door: Welcome to the Jonathan Horowitz Show, a carnival of parsimonious acts of appropriation where politics and mass-media spectacle collide with destabilized ideals, hidden hegemonic truths and the risible rise and fall of American ambition.
With so many smouldering fires left behind by George W. Bush's administration, how much work about recent political grievances will bubble to the surface? Artists like Steve Powers and Jon Kessler, both of whom are represented by Deitch Projects, have over the years churned out politico-apocalyptic nightmares. Unlike Powers and Kessler, Horowitz's formal restraint and simple means eschews histrionics in favor of plainspoken irony. It's the kind of uncomfortable, contra-American art that European collectors love to buy. Yet for all of his wit, is it possible to read the following label and not feel deceived by the preposterousness of Horowitz's art?