I’ve built my own volcano. I’ve made crepes without a recipe. I’ve skinned a rattlesnake with my bare hands, and cross my heart I’ve been offered a drink of human blood. What I’m trying to say is, I’ve experimented. True experimentation is a leap into the unknown, a riddle in the dark—a genuine quest for knowledge. I turned up at the group show “It Is Only A State of Mind” at NGBK primed for possibility, and found only a sad facsimile thereof.
Don’t get me wrong, I like a good drug trip as much as the next girl, and I’ve tried my hand at a Ouija board a few times…just like everyone else I know. Yet, if everyone’s doing it, one really has to ask: is it actually experimentation?
At the crowded opening, swarms gathered in thrall around monitors depicting blurry black and white investigations into optical imagery after death and blown-up close-ups of LSD, MDMA and Heroin on a molecular level. We wandered through rooms of solid, colored cloth paneling, past films of seances, beyond electromagnetic landscapes––only to end up exactly where we have always been.
Have you ever been high and wondered if the color green you see is the same as everyone else’s green, and then stopped to realize that virtually everyone who picked up a spliff and then put on a Pink Floyd record has had that same thought? Passing through this specific “State of Mind” is much the same—a dull recapitulation of the same acts of “exploration” we have been told to consider avant-garde for the past few decades.
Art lover Gabriela at the electromagnetic landscape. Photo: Chris Phillips
The photographs of molecular mind-enhancers are beautiful, reminiscent of Gursky’s recent foray into aerial photography, and Rosemary Trockel’s spiderwebs are a perfection in imperfection itself. However, the aforementioned electromagnetic landscape feels exactly as fresh as a first-year science fair project; meanwhile, communications from beyond the grave, as portrayed at least, are equal parts overwrought and underwhelming.
Where is the semen under the stairs, the coyote in the cage? Where is the molten lead? The history of art has been built by those truly brave, or foolish, enough to experiment. The work in this show is mere charlatanism—flash without substance, the lightening without the kite and string, ultimately signifying nothing.
- NGBK – Group Show “It Is Only A State of Mind” – March 2nd -April 7th, 2013 – Thursday-Saturday: 12pm-8pm [Works not for sale]
Article by Hannah Nelson-Teutsch