Walking around the local galleries, you might notice exhibits showing a theme of pointless and oppressed labor! A scary new take on recession art? Echoing the chill of nearby Rawson Project’s ominous installation is Daniel Turner’s Mariana. With a quieter sense of menace, The Journal Gallery displays Sisyphusian evidence of ironic toil, rather than monuments toward it.

The brash bareness of the show’s appearance might have some passerby thinking that the space is between shows. What they could easily miss from the street is a silvery haze marring the perimeter of the white cube – a smudgy pattern made by pressing steel wool against the walls.

The general effect is that of accidental, haphazard rubs mimicking a low hanging fog. The significance though, lays in the act it records. The height of the marking hovers around a foot-and-a-half to two feet – about the level of someone scrubbing on hand and knees. The steel wool usually meant for cleaning becomes a staining agent here. The irony is completed by the encirclement of the mark. The more the action attempts to clean the imprint, the worse it gets.

Is this a statement on post-minimalist futility or a tease at the endless drudgery of a cleaning crew’s job? The general lightness of the ring suggests the former. The “artist” thought the ethereal nature of the work best suits the fleeting nature of most art labels and the “janitor” knew enough to stop rubbing before things got worse.

The Journal Gallery
168 No. 1st
Through October 23


Martin Esteves is a Greenpoint based art critic, and writes for his own blog The Life of St. Martin. Read his review on Davina Semo at Rawson Projects.

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