Friday, February 25, 2011

Alexa Hoyer and Walsh Hansen at The Laundromat

Of the exhibitions on view last week for Beat Night in Bushwick, a major highlight were the pieces of performance and video art made by Alexa Hoyer and Walsh Hansen. Hoyer had on view the written transcripts of a series of conversations she had heard on the subway:

Alexa Hoyer, Eavesdropping, 2010, partial written text.

These, in turn, were re-enacted on Friday and Saturday nights:

In the next room, Hansen had running a few videos, one of which consisted of a pair of lawn ornaments (a duck and a squirrel, with respective voice-over personifications) having a fairly serious late night chat about nuclear war and global politics. The works, curated by Kevin Andrew Curran, are both fun and funny, and were marked by a general sense of irony and humor.

Irony doesn't always play that friendly of a role in a gallery environment. An awful lot of the time, the high brow "joke" implicit in a work of art comes more from a place of quiet hostility than inclusiveness, more of a smirk than a smile. Pleasure is often sacrificed to make greater room for braininess. It is as if, rather than welcoming the viewer into an even field of silliness and play, a joke must point downward at the subject, institution, or viewer as an object of intellectual mockery.

Hoyer's and Hansen's works are special because they treat playfulness and whim as assets rather than  impediments to the high-minded engagement that so many contemporary artists strive for. The point of the joke isn't to separate the people who might "get it" from those who don't, but to draw the artist, performers, and viewers together to listen, observe, and, as a reward, laugh.
The Laundromat is at 70 Wyckoff Ave. Apt. 1J, Brooklyn, NY. Visiting hours are made by appointment via

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