When you have an exhibition co-curated by two university professors (and one gallery director) things get a bit academic; texts reach further beyond the physical objects to which they are bound to and new catch phrases like “damaged romanticism” and “aftermath aesthetic” are wielded in hopes of coining a new epochal nomenclature. But when one takes the didactic texts and curatorial framing of Damaged Romanticism: A Mirror of Modern Emotion with a grain of salt, one can better enjoy this almost museum quality group exhibition that features a number of talented artists from around the world.
One of the exhibition highlights are two short films made by the Danish artist, Jesper Just, who has taken New York by storm with his recent solo exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum. Moody and atmospheric narratives develop in Just’s work, typically acted out by a cast of professional actors and musicians. Both It Will All End in Tears and the Bergmanesque A Vicious Undertow, seen in this exhibition, are eccentric and ambiguous mediations on isolation, where a struggle for human connection is expressed in song.
Another highlight of Damaged Romanticism: A Mirror of Modern Emotion is Anneè Olofsson’s video projection, Say Hello Then Wave Goodbye (2004). The 12 minute time-lapsed video documents the melting away of a sculpted bust of the artist done in ice and tinted black. Shot from a bird’s-eye view hovering over the melting portrait, Olofsson’s piece reminds oneself of the transient nature of life. Here, the result of thermodynamics takes on a cosmic proportion.
Not to miss are the colorful soft sculptures of Berlinde De Bruyckere that use scrappy materials to depict analogous struggles found in Jesper Just’s work, and the blinged out embroideries of Angelo Filomeno that mix allegory with fantasy.
Images: Annee Olafsson, Evil Eye (2004); Jesper Just, It Will All End in Tears, 2006. COurtesy Grey Art Gallery.