Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Last Call at New Museum

I posted recently about the last exhibit to take place at the Chelsea location of the New Museum of Contemporary Art, and today I went to a preview of the show with the artist, Andrea Zittel. The exhibit, Critical Spaces, is the first comprehensive survey in the US of her work made over the last fifteen years. She lived in Williamsburg from 1990 to about 2000 before moving to Joshua Tree, California.

Conceptually, her work revolves around the contradictions created by everyday life. Public versus private space; how limitations can create a sense of freedom; how we yearn to belong but struggle for independence. The art works themselves are an impressive array of objects from a carpeting study to dresses and uniforms, escape vehicles and living modules, sculpture and drawings.

When she's addressing how everyday objects and the spaces we occupy shape the way we live, her work is at its best. Not as successful is a piece that attempts to address, as she said this afternoon, how we are affected by time. She spent a week in a windowless, basement studio in Berlin with nothing around to give her any indication of what time it was, and the result of that experiment is confusing. Her work around personal space (as opposed to time) is much better conceived:

I was also impressed with the simple quality of work. Any aspiring designer would be thrilled to produce the crocheted dresses and "personal panels" (below). It's amazing that the same person who welded together escape vehicles also made watercolors and knitted tops.

The show opens to the public on January 26 (through March 27) at the New Museum of Contemporary Art.