Sunday, February 3, 2008

Hans Haacke at Paula Cooper

A mini-retrospective of works by Hans Haacke at Paula Cooper, minimal and scarce in number but enough to create an environment that is diverse in medium, concept, and subject.
The strongest and most emotionally influential is Wide White Flow from 1967 which consists of large white fabric dreamily billowing by a few fans. Each corner is fitted to the floor preventing chaotic stormy movement. The fans create waves of movement, an energy in constant flux, but steady in tone, serene in attitude. Its all encompassing size is contradicted by its closeness to the floor, as if stunted, limited in its freedom to expand and billow into infinitum.
His controversial and signature photographic conceptual piece, Sol Goldman and Alex DiLorenzo Manhattan Real Estate Holdings, a Real-Time Social System, as of May 1, 1971, is on view in a separate room, a line of buildings stationed on the wall, an unforgiving simplicity attached to its concept of political and social significance. Not very easy to digest, or perhaps too easily digested without proper chewing, this series is often dismissed for its lack of formal aesthetic but this is precisely what the artist intends, making the viewer struggle in finding a meaning behind all the closed doors. The data gathered comments to a social system based on ownership, power and manipulation, as the rich get richer thus kicking out the less fortunate from their forced state of comfort.
A more recent work consists of a dilapidated couch, torn, stained and ugly on which is planted an embroidered pillow quoted with words by George H.W. Bush and a torn paper flag, its other half still in its frame above the couch. The message is clear, perfectly rendered with simple everyday household goods.
Each work in the show deals with a level of consummation, consuming culture, politics, property, beauty, art viewing, etc. They all reflect current concerns specific to America, of fear of change, obsession with real estate, and the growing promiscuity of the art market.

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