The thrill is gone. When BB King sang it sounded bittersweet. When Scott Campbell inscribes it into a stack of one dollar bills in Latino gang script, it feels different. Like it doesn’t evenmatter that it’s gone, because let’s just have fun anyway. And in the barrage of summer group shows, that fun seems to be the recurrent theme. Even the serious ones seem to be willing to trade in deeper goals for just plain fun. And why not? It’s summer.
In Phantasmagoria, the new Moeller Snow Gallery- not quite Lower East Side, not quite Soho- offers up fun in a bunch of flavors, emphasized by the fuchsia floor and the slightly skewed work in it. Along with Campbell’s apparently melancholic phrases, Joseph Heidecker’s bound and glued sculptures of animals and retouched period photos make a statement that is as comical as they are challenging. When the pins stick out of the sparrow’s head, its body bound in wire, you have to smile and feel the bittersweet prick of a love gone wonderfully awry. With bucolic portraits from the fifties as his raw material, Heidecker harkens back to a simpler time. But in the vein of Todd Haynes Far from Heaven, Heidecker suggests a perversity and darkness that Happy Days never dared. The thrill may be gone, but another one is just around the corner.
Images: Scott Campbell, The Thrill Is Gone (2008); Joseph Heidecker, Sparrow (Needles) (2008). Courtesy Moeller Snow Gallery.