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New York
20140224160428-1
Andy Coolquitt
Lisa Cooley
107 Norfolk St, New York, NY 10002
January 31, 2014 - March 9, 2014


Lowbrow Stuff in a Vitrine
by Alison Kuo


It's as if the artwork decamped from the gallery and took refuge amongst the luxury wares in the nearby designer outlet. I probably would not have noticed Andy Coolquitt’s installation in Maryam Nassir Zadeh’s hip boutique if I hadn’t been looking for it. The work’s prolix title, no I didn't go to any museums here I hate museums museums are just stores that charge you to come in there are lots of free museums here but they have names like real stores, suggests this Texas based artist has had enough high culture, and indeed it looks like he may have scavenged a thrift shop to build his installation.

no I didn’t go to any museums here... is the first of a series of off-site projects conceptualized by the Lisa Cooley gallery for 2014, which, if Coolquitt’s is any indication, promise to be worth keeping tabs on. His installation takes the popular format of arranging lowbrow stuff in a vitrine. Raised on wooden pallets and open on two sides, the work is about as a spacious as a janitor’s closet; it does not invite entry but does nothing to thwart inspection. The display case format of Coolquitt’s installation sits very comfortably within the sophisticated environment of a high-end boutique, where goods are carefully and sparely laid out, emphasizing the aura of one-off collectibles.

Andy Coolquitt, no I didn’t go to any museums here I hate museums museums are just stores that charge you to come in there are lots of free museums here but they have names like real stores, 2012, Plexiglas, carpet, wood, metal, wire, light bulbs, paint, paper, polyester, plastic, and found objects, 96 x 120 x 72 inches; Courtesy of the artist and Maryam Nassir Zadeh.

 

Coolquitt’s material world, however, is decidedly less high-end. His plexi walls are smeared and scratched. The carpeting that covers the pallets is dingy and tan. The objects inside are not packed in too tight but they do seem crowded together, like puzzle pieces that haven’t yet found their place. There is a stack of records, a lighter collection, lamps, a pen, a cracked board, but also what could be the bric-a-brac of an artist’s studio. The level of focus the work demands leads to questions of how different kinds of environments stimulate visitors in various ways. Far from wishing that I could have an untainted white-cube field of vision in which to contemplate the work, I actually quite liked seeing the store fixtures, jewelry, and dresses in my periphery. I was also glad to have an easy going conversation with the store clerk, whose attitude bore little resemblance to the cold demeanor of many gallery attendants.

The objects are playful enough – their faded plastics hinting at childhood toys and other well-worn tools of recreation – but they are not fun. Move outward from the relationship between any two things and the impulse towards nostalgic story-making fades. They resist interpretation until the end of looking, at which point they glom back into one unit of color, matter and space.

Andy Coolquitt, no I didn’t go to any museums here I hate museums museums are just stores that charge you to come in there are lots of free museums here but they have names like real stores (detail), 2012, Plexiglas, carpet, wood, metal, wire, light bulbs, paint, paper, polyester, plastic, and found objects, 96 x 120 x 72 inches; Courtesy of the artist and Maryam Nassir Zadeh.

 

According to the friendly store clerk, as of the afternoon I went none of her customers were confusing Coolquitt’s tower of plastic cigarette lighters or waxen phallic accretions with the designer accessories on sale. However, there is a pleasant, even mischievous, inscrutability as to the status of this artwork in a fashion-oriented retail setting. If you go on the shop’s web store you can see photos worthy of the next issue of PURPLE Magazine featuring a model in a $432 t-shirt posing inside of Coolquitt’s piece. The installation was also listed there with a price tag. (It has been taken down since this article was published.) Not all art needs to or should translate into dollar signs, but it is refreshing to see a piece that raises questions about art’s relationship to commerce, and in doing so implicates itself as a participant in that system. Like Coolquitt’s installation and the store that temporarily houses it, the project is transparent and open, and the title of the piece alone complicates the nature of its being there.

 

Alison Kuo 

 

 

[Image on top: Andy Coolquitt, no I didn’t go to any museums here I hate museums museums are just stores that charge you to come in there are lots of free museums here but they have names like real stores (detail), 2012, Plexiglas, carpet, wood, metal, wire, light bulbs, paint, paper, polyester, plastic, and found objects, 96 x 120 x 72 inches; Courtesy of the artist and Maryam Nassir Zadeh]



Posted by Alison Kuo on 2/24 | tags: installation vitrine Commercial fashion everyday objects

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