Judith Barry, Martin Beck, Brian O'Doherty,
Hermes Payrhuber, Gerwald Rockenschaub,
The exhibition Dis-Play / Re-Play coincided with the 40th anniversary of Brian O'Doherty's seminal essay series, "Inside the White Cube." First published as three essays in Artforum in 1976, "Inside the White Cube" argues that the pristine, sterile style dominating exhibition spaces has itself become a driving factor in the conceptualization and execution of art works. This artificial, ostensibly neutral setting, akin to both a showroom and a church, functions as an ideological and aesthetic proposition by presenting artworks as isolated, autonomous commodities. The Austrian Cultural Forum New York headquarters, a marvel of urban and architectural ingenuity in its own right, is far from a typical white cube. Its narrow dimensions and multi-level exhibition space-dominated by a prominent glass staircase and chrome elevator-provide a singular curatorial challenge. Bucking contemporary art's trend toward increasingly sprawling white cubes, which present ever more numerous and larger-scale artworks, Dis-Play / Re-Play embraced the contingent nature of art-making and an attention to site. The confines of the ACFNY become both a challenge and an opportunity for individual artistic positions.
Works in the show included Parallax City, a new "rope drawing" by Brian O'Doherty that transformed the ACFNY's Main Gallery (and most traditional exhibition space) into an
immersive field of surfaces and color, in which the geometric lines of rope and wall-painting are activated through the viewer's movement. In the building's lobby, Gerwald Rockenschaub installed an angled plexiglass composition that mimics the colors of the Austrian flag, both responding to and hijacking the building's native architectural gestures. In the Lower Mezzanine gallery, Judith Barry showed a new version of They Agape, a two-channel video installation set to 1970s punk rock that tracks the intense interpersonal dynamics and dialogue of two women architects. Continuing his investigations into exhibition display, management structures, and personal practice, Martin Beck presented a two-floor installation that featured his digital "notebook" pages in their first public appearance. Hermes Payrhuber's Ode to the Rope with a Knot with a Hole transformed the Upper Gallery into a kaleidoscopic room with a series of spatial interventions including blown-up photographs, and large-scale tripod sculptures. Investigating the performative potential of the ACFNY's double-height wall, Mika Tajima's work span two interior floors with an installation that combined a finely-detailed wallpaper with a series of plexiglass "furniture art," playfully transforming the building's character to suggest new possibilities for interaction within the space.
© Naho Kubota
1 Austrian Cultural Forum Interior
2 & 3 Martin Beck
4 Hermes Payrhuber
5 Mika Tajima
6 Gerwald Rockenschaub
7 Judith Barry
8 Brian O’Doherty