Pound Sign

New York City, pop culture, art and nightlife. Because nobody else is blogging about those things.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Communing with the spirits, sans irony.

Headed to 4th St. on Sunday to check out Creative Time's "Strange Powers" exhibition, curatedby Laura Hoptman (who I happen to work with) and Peter Eleey. In a seemingly abandoned building, a walk up a creaky flight of stairs past layers of grime and peeling wallpaper scraps takes visitors to a group of works that approach the spiritual, the psychic, the paranormal, and the afterlife in ways both provocative and (mostly) sincere-that last part is actually a nice change of pace. Some works are especially interesting-the Center for Tactical Magic's installation of growing plants whose health is being influenced by the thoughts, either positive or negative, that visitors are asked to project at them; this piece obviously has a sense of humor...but it also seems to be a working experiment. (they also supplied the DIY spell-casting sheets handed out at the door, which were cute but struck me as a little too tongue in cheek for this show) Senga Nengudi's installation of dripping water is quietly powerful, but some of the works that strive to address the power of healers, mediums and seances come across as certainly more interesting experiences for the artists then effective as works to be experienced. The eeriest works channel (in effect, literally) artists no longer with us who explored mortality-their own and by projection, everyone's-years before they died. James Lee Byar's pitch black room where his ghost supposedly resides-a new installation based on directions from the artist decades ago. Friedrich Jurgenson's posthumous, ghostly television screen portrait and his static-filled audio recordings of what he called "Electronic Voice Phenomena" from his friends in the great beyond. Works like these suit the brickwalled, tin-ceiling space, one of those great old, crumbling New York spaces that it's a pleasure to get into for whatever reason-and this one is purported to be haunted, so good choice!


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