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New York
Alison Elizabeth Taylor
James Cohan Gallery
533 West 26th St., New York, NY 10001
May 22, 2008 - June 21, 2008

Alison Elizabeth Taylor on the Fringes
by Yaelle Amir


Alison Elizabeth Taylor’s new works on view at James Cohan Gallery display a myriad of contradictions, beginning with the very surface upon which her narratives unfold.  While her notable wood inlay technique brings to mind traditional high-end decorative art objects, the stories that unfold within it focus on utopian communities that have deserted the comforts of an affluent life for living on the fringes of society.  In Room – decisively the most ambitious work in the exhibition – Taylor depicts the living quarters of an apparent recluse.  The anonymous inhabitant possesses mainly nostalgic objects of a stereotypically American nature, including taxidermy, military accessories, and various weapons.  Although sparse, every object carries a cultural significance reflective of our society’s values and desires.  The two opposite ‘windows’ each depict a very different landscape—one showcases a desolate desert, and the other a suburban environment.  These contrasting views heighten the feeling of impermanence inherent to the room—compressing into a single vista both the serene present and the inevitably unsettling future.  

Other works in the exhibition capture intimate moments within utopian settings. Buckminster Fuller’s geodesic dome homes make several appearances, though the suggested narratives reveal a far from idyllic existence. Whether with expressions of the ‘threats’ of capitalism or the oftentimes-questionable human nature, Taylor subtly confronts us with the ironies and illusions intrinsic to our society.

*Images: Slab City (2007); Hank (2007). Courtesy the artist and James Cohan Gallery.



Posted by Yaelle Amir on 6/8/08

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