Having replaced God in their last show with security cameras and diorama church groups, Bushwick’s Ortega Y Gasset Projects settles down to a DIY Eden with Kelly Kaczynski’s Yes; Or As If.
The walls of the space show an apple-green floating landscape populated by lounging nudes. The landscape is scaffolding, the innocents are friends of the artist, and the grass is chroma green paint. But the initial feel of pastoral airiness is not lost with details of plywood and green throwing tarp.
The photographs are staged in Kaczynski’s studio using materials from previous projects in an appropriate repurposing of what is essentially a reshuffling of studio props. With simple device we are taken from Joni Mitchell’s paved paradise to David Byrne’s daisy covered pizza hut and back, full circle, to a home depot heaven on earth. The ceiling has blown off the still-life interior. With photographs the viewer more easily accepts the atmosphere as granted and the effect here avoids heavy-handedness.
The color green began replacing blue as the chroma key when movies started moving to digital – the sky essentially being brought down to the lawn. Here the green replaces the smoke with actual mirrors that further extend the illusion of space. The key is that while some of the wooden structures and tarp are chroma green, chroma key is also actually used in patches to further distort the reality of the plane. Some of the people hold or stand next to mirrors coupling the tech mosaic with “real space” distortion. Space is fractured, limbs float through hillsides, and the artists’ studio expands into the beyond. An apt hinge for a modernist formal trope and lively political narrative.
Photography of sculpture and scenario made for the photograph risks an immediate feel of loss of substance. The intangible can itself become the subject matter and the flatness of the paper walls us off more than it unfolds to us. Making that immaterial surface the subject itself can also be risky, as it is here. But the risk here is in sync with the tension. Chroma itself as a topic works because it is the very ground of, not for projection. Both matter and suggestion, green multitasks in this garden. It is a simple and useful tool for connecting form and content.
But the stars of the show are of course the Eves and Adams. Nudity in photography hopefully retains some sort of a titillating factor even in “art” and especially when the naked might be recognized as a certain local “who’s who.” No need for clothes in this raw, unashamed vista. Yet the glazed eye posing common with staged photography might not suggest enlightened meditation (there eyes would be closed, right?). The story these players lead us through doesn’t end in the languor of paradise. Their inactivity is a frozen one due to the still and waiting potential of the after effect screen. This isn’t Heaven, It’s Limbo.
Yes; Or As If
Organized by Clare Britt
Ortega Y Gasset Projects
1717 Troutman building
Through April 5