Taking its title from a Lawrence Weiner work, As Long As It Lasts comprises works that contemplate impermanence and mortality, often from a personalized, humanist point of view. There is nothing fussy or overly sophisticated about this one. It talks the talk and walks the walk.
The show opens with Maurizio Cattelan's simple photograph of a pen that has just run out of ink, then proceeds to two poetic films by William Kentridge and Guido Van der Werve, respectively. The latter's Nummer Acht (#8) everything is going to be alright shows an all white seascape in Finland, where a man, comparatively underdressed, walks slowly on the frozen water trailed not far behind by a massive icebreaker ship. They both make their paths in tandem but completely ignorant of one another. It is a beautiful, dreamlike work that seems to suspend death and danger, though for how long we don't know.
A few other highlights include poignant portrait films by Tacita Dean of an aged Mario Merz, and Artur Zmijewski's heartfelt Karolina, which follows the physical and emotional struggles of an 18-year old woman suffering from osteoporosis. Also worth mentioning is Perfect Day by Olivier Babin. Enclosed in a glassed niche, the work is a small, synthetic diamond made from the ashes of one of the artist's previous works, making the case for incarnation.
The only person in the show who thinks that death is pretty funny, who can't wait for his own obituary to be written, is Gabriel Orozco. His framed text-based work Obit, which far outshines Weiner's own tiresome babble of a floor text, compiles the obituary headlines of individuals taken from the New York Times. It is straight out of Doonesbury, with zingers like "Expert on Infidelity," "Champion of the Unpopular," "Football Star Known as Choo Choo," and "A Painter of Poetic Realism."
Life is a gas. Long live death.
- Trong Gia Nguyen
(Images: Guido Van der Werve, Nummer Acht (#8) everything is going to be alright (2007); Gabriel Orozco, Obit (2008). Courtesy Marian Goodman Gallery, NY)