Instead of reclaiming the commodity as a gesture towards the personal and specific or altering it into an absurd hyperbole, once these artists intervene with a pre-made cultural object, the works just break, like a hot glass shattering onto itself.
Claire Fontaine, an anonymous artists’ collective that produces visual and text-based work under the nomme de plume of the aforementioned French notebook company, showed four objects in “her” most recent exhibition at Reena Spaulings Fine Art. Located above a Chinese restaurant, the gallery keeps its seedy atmosphere – tiles uprooted from the floor – because, really, the term “white cube” has been dying for over fifty years and even though it’s occasionally shot at, it keeps on running with precision.
Claire Fontaine’s installation Human Strike (Grève humaine) was a combined effort of labor on the part of the artists and gallery-workers where thousands of holes were drilled into the wall and then filled with matches. Although CF has performed similar tasks to this one, to elucidate just how overwhelming and potentially futile this act, some holes were left purposely unfilled. No fire and no fireworks, just the human drama of premature carpal tunnel syndrome.
For Shape Shifters at Rachel Uffner Gallery, Sam Moyer began to rip up IKEA rugs and then sealed them with encaustic. These Worry Rugs are gross mummifications of failed grids and hopeful IKEA dreams gone goth. IKEA, Minimalism, and any other overarching power-wielding -ism were never right, but Sam Moyer and Claire Fontaine don’t attempt to destroy or remedy what has already happened. Letting out a disinterested sigh, the artists leave the mess that’s already been made, letting the sticky, gooey mess pool onto itself and only then, they retreat.