It may seem anachronistic to use a wall-mounted phone, or, depending on your age, to even make a phone call. Nevertheless, in her first show at Metro Pictures French-born multimedia artist Camille Henrot invites nostalgia for the clunky, corded electronics. Pick up the receiver of any one of the pastel, ‘80s-inspired plastic sculptures and enter absurdist self-help hotlines, developed in collaboration with writer Jacob Bromberg. Prompts defy expectation (“Press 5 if your dog manipulates you with lies, contradictions or promises,” spouts one), and often trigger unexpected moments of self-reflection. In the second gallery, a series of large, cartoonish watercolor drawings depict animals acting out uncomfortably unethical scenes from mythology and gossip blogs. The piece de resistance, however, is in the third darkened room. Strobe lights flash upon a circular sculpture that rotates rapidly, animating undulating weightlifters, spilling pill bottles, female dancers and worm-like cigarettes. The mesmerizing visuals suppress the banality of the subjects, effectively animating everyday life.
Pictured: Camille Henrot: Bad Dad & Beyond, 2015, three-dimensional resin print with video and telephone components, 44 by 20 by 9 inches.
French artist Camille Henrot provides the standout in the New Museum’s slew of new exhibitions, showing a fantastic mix of video, engravings, sculptures and ikebana-style flower arrangements. The latter are based on books from Henrot’s library, translating texts into configurations of plants and objects that still manage to carry something of their source material. Also on view is Grosse Fatigue (2013), a video splicing together creation myths and screenshots of items from the collection of the Smithsonian Institution, all within the visual framework of a computer desktop. The work won her the Silver Lion at last year’s Venice Biennale.