If August were a litmus test for an art gallery it would distinguish between three types: the weak, who close shop; the dull, who dust off their golden oldies, and the tireless, who emerge to test ideas too experimental for any other time of the year. Like a late night scene at a nightclub, the far end of the tireless section is typically crowded with young people. And the beauty of being in a place like this is unconventional, like courting serendipity with buckets full of planned chances.
When you walk into P.P.O.W. Gallery it’s obvious immediately where they fall on the litmus test. Young Curator’s New Ideas II, organized by Amani Olu, is a group exhibition of curators who have each put together mini exhibitions. From a quantitative perspective we’re talking seven shows in one; from the qualitative angle it is the jeweler’s medley, a necklace full of precious gems, each a beauty on its own and an engaging compliment to its neighbor.
The seven mini exhibitions run the gamut from Comet Fever, connecting communal hallucination with scientific modalities, to the Low Musuem, a consideration of how popular culture views the contemporary art curator. Cleopatras inaugurated a reference archive on a bookshelf; Women in Photography deconstructed the female gaze, and The Individual & The Family have had their threads intertwined. 1973 explores the desire to absorb information, while In Heaven explores the paradox inherent within the title In Heaven.
What is surprising in this exhibition isn’t the new ideas of the young curators, it’s the organization of the whole. Seven curators each doing separate shows with separate artists in the same space. It sounds like an impossible feat, like gluing a whale’s tail to a skyscraper, but Amani Olu and his roster of curators made it happen. There are Neon nooses, abandoned tortillas, the lost gloves of Los Hermanas Inglesias, a charred resin tree limb, and an interactive sculpture called Santa (You Complete Me), from which I was given a broken wooden lightning bolt. It might seem like madness when you enter, but like any nightclub worth a scene, if you stay a while the vibe gets in you and the next thing you know...you're dancing.
(Images: Young Curators, New Ideas II (installation view), 2009; Bryan Zanisnik, Mom and Dad in Outer Space (2007). Courtesy the artists and P.P.O.W., New York)