Ramiken Crucible | 389 Grand Street
Ramiken Crucible presents Ο Νότος θα εγερθεί ξανα, a double exhibition by Andra Ursuta.
A tower made of bent steel pipe supports a concrete billboard. In its center hangs a plump, sightless eagle with outstretched wings. The bird appears to be flexing, or crucified. In its pre-cast life, this used to be Fritz, the German eagle, pliable World Cup mascot and lovable version of a more intimidating ancestor. Together with the slab they form a colorless national flag, which could easily be a modular panel in an endless concrete fence. The three horizontal bands are identical down to the ripples, as if the stripes were copied and pasted into a physical object whose flutter circumscribes a virtual breeze. The same unnatural air seems to have puffed out Fritz. Hanging overhead by a structure that resembles the goal post of an unknown urban sport, an advertisement, and a barrier, the concrete panel holds up the abstract symbol of the flag as a set of conditions that simultaneously attract and ward off outsiders.
Some of the losers of this sport are commemorated nearby. The Olympdicks series consists of five monumental photograms on velvet depicting vacant penis costumes engaged in pathetic gymnastics and self-sabotage. Each work is executed in one of the five colors of the interlocking rings that form the symbol of the Olympic Games. If the concrete flag is the bloated incarnation of a flat original, the Olympdicks athletes are crumpled, decorticated silhouettes. Gutted, pierced, hung, and bent out of shape, these molts are perverted testaments to the meaninglessness of sport spectacles and their short-lived victories.
The exhibition continues in an underground room a few blocks East. Velvet images produced with the use of common black lights, the kind usually encountered in forensics and dance clubs, line the walls. At times the lights create overlapping exposures on the same support; at others, they focus on a single point, rendering a partial image. Their deployment across the velvet surfaces suggests a handheld Photoshop burn tool moving in three-dimensional space. The lights themselves come in a variety of forms and intensities, from low-wattage tubes to intense flashlights, forming a set of fluorescent brushes with distinct signatures. Hollow skins, Halloween decorations, deflated balloons, and S&M masks flattened against crumpled grounds suggest a violent cataclysm, instant vacuum in the wake of an explosion. These generic, mass-produced things come from a lowest common denominator kind of darkness. Paired with S&M's optimistic, can-do spin on misanthropy, they manage at once to look like the discarded decorations of a party that ended long ago and as menacingly hollow shadows hanging in empty space, waiting to inhale.
Thurs - Sun 12:00 PM - 6:00 PM