Monday, July 20, 2009

FF in NYC (2002)

FROM THE ARCHIVES, JULY 20 - This originally posted on, 5/27/02

ForceField of Providence, RI – featuring our own Mr. Brinkman – wrapped up its 3 month run in the 2002 Whitney biennial yesterday. Sam and Tara Vermiform met up with Neil and Noelle Monoroid in front of the Whitney on 54th street. The last such outing for this gang was in 2001, when the four fit in a trip to Movieland wax museum in Buena Park.

Forcefield’s piece was located on the 3rd floor. A room 17 feet high had been converted into a walk-in diorama of life sized creature-mannequins, like the historical armor exhibition across town at the Metropolitan Museum of Fine Art, perhaps a thousand years from now. A few small monsters stood around the periphery. Several beasts the size of European automobiles lurked in the background. Neil Burke had hand screened the thousands upon thousands of sheets that covered the back walls and ceiling, and he seemed to droop a bit taking it all in. Serious old ladies could be seen writing force field in their little notebooks. Matt Brinkman himself arrived after twenty minutes, looking dazed by civilian life. It turned out that Matt had been standing in the exhibit, in full costume, much the same way Vincent Price had once posed in his own diorama at the Movieland wax museum, scaring passers by and retreating, like Brinkman, through a tiny secret door.

The gang wandered for a while. Sam did his best to follow the rules of open mouthed bubble gum chewing (OK in rooms of framed photographs fine, not OK fine in rooms of 18th century paintings), the result of several incidents of things flying out of his mouth. Despite bad press and a few distinct stinkers, there were some great pieces here; Ken Feingold’s bald Caucasian heads with moving mouths and eyes, talking to each other in computerized monotones from a cardboard box filled with packing peanuts (“Do you think we’ll die?”), the “Holy Artwork” video installation collaboration between performance artist Christian Jankowski and San Antonio’s Harvest Fellowship Church, John Leanos’ fictional archeological artifacts, Robert Lazzorini’s incredible elongated payphone complete with stickers and stains.

The best piece of the show belonged to mad genius Miranda July, who had recorded a 20 minute loop that ran in the massive elevators. Sam rode the lift until he found himself alone with the recording, watching strangers listen to her dramas in pieces as the elevator moved from floor to floor, sometimes talking amongst each other in small groups; “I think I saw one of the move!” “Ooh, which one was it?”