In the midst of fish bones, dirty diapers and empty beer cans, a little gallery has sprouted on one of the smelliest blocks in New York. Shoot The Lobster, formerly attached to Martos Gallery, welcomes its first exhibition, "The Grand Opening", in a new Lower East Side venue.
Curated by Alexander Shulan and Jason Lee, the group show features Robert Bittenbender, Georgina Braoudakis, David Flaugher, Jeffrey Joyal, Valerie Keane, Bradley Kronz, Jason Matthew Lee, Jared Madere, Ben Schumacher, Luke Schumacher, Dena Yago and Amy Yao.
By poking at Clement Greenberg’s concept of "medium-specificity", "The Grand Opening" is a location specific show. Indeed, most of the work has been made for the space with the odd intersection of Chinatown and the Lower East Side in mind. As I entered, I felt like I was walking into the world of a Rauschenberg’s combine. The schmutz and detritus from the street is welcomed inside the gallery and the art space has been desacralized.
My favorite piece is David Flaugher's "Harpo Playing Rachmaninoff’s Prelude in C-Sharp Minor," an old Oushak rug placed under a dirty sheet of plastic, onto which you must walk as you enter. I didn’t notice it at first, and made it dirtier with my own shoes. But would I have noticed it if this piece had been shown at Gavin Brown?
There is more to the fact that the curators Alex and Jason are well aware of their surroundings, as the interest in materiality of the works ties the show together. In this (post?) Internet art age that we have been/are living in, it is refreshing to see artists going back to raw materials. But the intangible qualities of net art are referenced throughout “The Grand Opening”: the space and the works are falling apart, unstable, and hard to sell.
The major contrast with Internet notions is that “The Grand Opening” isn’t clean and stark. Georgina Braoudakis and Luke Schumacher brought in reefs from Far Rockaway, but the ephemerality of their "Trials of Predator/Prey" piece mirrors the big question marks behind the Internet: will Facebook last for ever? Where/what is the iCloud, and will my stuff safe there? Not to mention a memento mori of these dead reefs, a direct reference to Hurricane Sandy.
“The Grand Opening” is aware of our generation's dystopian frame of mind and how digital media has changed art, but not necessarily in a positive way. It is almost cyber punk, but post-cyber and not quite punk, either. With “The Grand Opening”, our generation tries to figure out where we all belong, but for now, remains indefinite.