Much ballyhooed of late is the irreverent, playful, pop sensibility infiltrating
so-called serious art. Often, this approach is couched in smug ironic pretension.
Thankfully, however, Shooting Blanks (81 Greene St.) bypasses the usual
commercial gallery venue for a renegade exhibition, a temporary squat negotiated
between curator and landlord.
Maybe this accounts for the feeling that this show has its finger on the pulse of the artistic community, but without a specific ax to grind or agenda to wield. Curated by Kenny Schachter, and incorporating a cafe, bar, and scheduled performances, Shooting Blanks includes several artists with bite.
Especially eye-popping are the mixed media paintings of Steve Gorman, a 29-year-old emerging artist. Sickly sweet and abrasive, each piece collides bizarre and contradictory images. In "Baby Head with Flowers and Gunshot Victims," a super-slick field of floral pattern and decoration surrounds a Gerber-esque baby head in a rose. Flanking this numbingly benign set-up are four victims of gunshot head wounds.
Other pieces include jarring juxtapositions from our collective info-tainment consciousness. "J.F.K. Autopsy Photos with African Mask and Beauty Pageant Winners" is beyond tongue-in-cheek and genuinely horrifies. Gorman's work offers a gorgeous mosaic of information both tragic and comic, which he dispenses with equal entertainment value (as it often is at the push of a button in our daily lives).
Dora Avramovic disarms the viewer as well. In "Big Sweeper/Duster," her 15-foot monument to feather dusters, brooms and dustpans, unexpected materials become an utterly convincing constructivist sculpture. Downstairs, Avramovic's smaller pieces, "Little Absorbent Piece" and "Little Brush Piece," made from a few household and cosmetic/hygiene utensils, again show her ability to subvert modernist sculpture in new ways.
Danny Tisdale dons the self-appointed title of "anthropological free agent" for the photo installation "The Last African-American". Tisdale constructs a fictive archaeological excavation around selected "artifacts" from the LA.. area, specifically Compton, the artist's own home. At this site, we find a still of the Rodney King beating, and a Malcolm X artifact and part of a Cream of Wheat box. Also included is "The African-American Language Glossary," familiarizing the view- er with such expressions as "L 7" meaning "square"--as in "unhip", derived from the shape that results from the joining of these two characters. Compton, California is deduced by the artist/anthropolo-gist to be a "compound" for "prisoners," from which Rodney King must have been trying to escape. This photo-installation makes sense out of shards of facts, and a convincing story is told.