time again

by Roberta Smith The New York Times, 2011

“Time Again” is a close race between curatorial imagination and curatorial pretension, but luckily, imagination wins out, especially if you give a wide berth to the arcane discussions in the show’s catalog and a belabored show-within-the-show. Organized by Fionn Meade, the SculptureCenter’s curator, the exhibition showcases the work of 18 artists, ranging from established figures like Blinky Palermo to relative newcomers, at least for New York, like the London-based filmmaker Laure Prouvost, whose “It, Heat, Hit” is among the standouts. Its rapid-fire editing echoes the work of artists like Aida Ruilova, but Ms. Prouvost’s way of addressing viewers creates an unusual immediacy.

According to its press release, Mr. Meade’s exhibition explores “the language of repetition” and its ability to “create disjunctions with the way the time of the present is experienced.” On the ground, the title simply gives a catchy tag to standard operating procedures, namely the multifarious strategies of appropriation, collage, assemblage and quotation that prevail in so much art today, albeit often representing them with intriguing examples. The two- and three-dimensional work of Elad Lassry, Rachel Harrison and Rosemarie Trockel recycles existing photographs, while the efforts of Richard Aldrich, Charline von Heyl and Ull Hohn echo known painting styles. Emily Roysdon offers a spot-on reprise of David Wojnarowicz’s 1978-79 “Arthur Rimbaud in New York,” for which he photographed himself wearing a portrait mask of that French poet. In response, Ms. Roysdon has photographed several women wearing a portrait mask of Wojnarowicz; the implication is that the torch of queer identity has been passed to women, and is being shared.

Some of the more affecting pieces involve simple repetition. Moyra Davey’s 50 photographs of inconsequential details of her living space record fragments of a present similar to the one most people inhabit but rarely examine so closely. Rosalind Nashashibi’s film “This Quality,” made in Cairo, starts with a portraitlike shot of a young woman in a room and then moves outdoors to the streets of Cairo at night, zeroing in on different parked cars protected by striped cotton covers that make them seem both upholstered, like sofas, and shrouded in burqas. Other films that energize the show are Aurélien Froment’s “Rabbits” (2009), a highly focused demonstration of sailors’ knots and the language by which they are memorized; Ms. Trockel’s “Goodbye Mrs. Monipäer” (2003), which shows people examining art in a modern house and consequently looking framed and behind glass themselves; and Steve Roden’s “ear is for sees (line and and horns)” (2007), a poetic split-screen meditation on nature, sculpture, staged photography (and filmmaking) and Henry Moore. Mr. Roden, an artist and musician who lives in Los Angeles and who is also represented here by colorfully eccentric drawings, an abstract painting and a muscular yet soothing sound piece in the SculptureCenter’s courtyard, gradually emerges as the star of the exhibition.