Untitled (Head Hunter)

Alex Gawronski: Untitled (Headhunter), 2012

Plato’s Cave (EIDIA House), Brooklyn, New York, USA

(Timber, brushed aluminium, paint, hex-bolts, rope, pulley)

Thanks to Paul Lamarre, EIDIA House

This work considered the physical and symbolic dimensions of the subterranean aspect of the Plato’s Cave vault space by exploring some of the more unseemly and absurd qualities of contemporary urban life and politics. For example, the wall-to-wall white tiling of Plato’s Cave, while superficially anodyne and ‘hygienic’, conjures also the opposite—a hidden space of unseen actions, of possible torture, a space where the telltale traces of antisocial or otherwise violent actions might easily be whitewashed.

Indeed, collectively we in the West would appear to be living in distinctly schizoid times where regularly what is openly annunciated as being for the ‘public good’, conceals much less palatable realities. Consider for instance the recent US policy of ‘extraordinary rendition’ or the ‘subterranean’ activities perpetrated at Abu Ghraib and other official prison facilities or elsewhere, the base activities of Austrian ‘psychopath’ Josef Fritzl who kept his daughter literally imprisoned underground for years solely for his ‘pleasure.’ Untitled (Headhunter) approached such dualities obliquely from the broader perspective of the unspoken dimensions of ‘actually existing’ democracy. Of course, one of the earliest expressions of modern democracy was the crowd-pleasing spectacle of public beheading.

From an art-historical perspective though, the work could additionally be seen to pun on Duchamp’s Fresh Widow (1920), itself a pun on the traditional French Window. In its time, the Guillotine was widely known as the ‘widow-maker’. In this case, the French Window through which the art work is glimpsed suggests the act of viewing as always underwritten by the threat of ultimate foreclosure; seeing ahead – to the end. Art fundamentally prefigured as an escape is equally a dead end, a trap set for the unwary whose vision extends only so far while being eternally ignorant of the external barriers that define its scope.

Written by alex gawronski

November 10, 2016 at 3:18 PM