We Went To the Upper East Side, Vol. One


Brand Innovations for Ubiquitous Authorship

Art Fag City


Leighann: This group show asks over 60 international artists to use custom printing services such as CafePress, Zazzle and Walmart to produce an object. The exhibition was conceived by Artie Vierkant, a rising star in the art world, and the finished objects were delivered directly to the gallery in sealed boxes. The press release was almost on target when predicting that the show would be “filled with highs, lows, and hopefully more than a few transcendent successes.”

There are more lows than highs in this show, but we’ll let them off considering it’s a summer exhibition. An array of tack occupies the small, enclosed gallery space. Artie Vierkant’s sneakers slump against the wall, Daniel Temkin’s scattered multi-colored flip-flops line the floor, and Jesse Alexander Madden Harding’s printed apron hangs on the wall next to loudly patterned shower curtains by Travis Smalley, Jaakko Pallasvuo, and Daniel Everett. There’s too much happening in the gallery space, and each object shouts over the next. Result: an exhibition that looks like the remnants of a kid’s birthday party.

Whitney: I agree, there is too much, though I think packing the space was kind of the point—that the internet brims with far too many images for you to possibly see in your lifetime, and each one can spawn unlimited copies. The lens here captures everything but the main event: the feet which the camera snapped by accident, the movie you only ever saw as a poster, or the secondary-brand product logos, all disposably immortalized as towels, toilet paper, curtains.

But I don’t think plunging the toilet of digital photography gets us very far. Given the opportunity to make a meaningful idea, why be the umpteenth show to reiterate the problem?

Leighann: I get that the point is clustering, but all the show told me was “Hey, we’re surrounded by these crappy reproduced images all the time, here are some more! Loads more! In a tiny space!”

Corinna: Is Zazzle the best thing ever? No! Is Wal-Mart the best thing ever? No! Are these the best artworks ever? No, but I’ll argue with you guys, I think this is an important show. Vierkant took a trend, of combining the online and IRL worlds, and put it into a show. Unfortunately, most of the ways that exist for putting the stuff you make online into physical space happen to be corporate: Zazzle, Wal-mart, and the like. There’s not a ton of well-crafted stuff in the show, but that’s what we’ve got now with these made-to-order companies. Given the restraints, I think the work on view shows a wide range of innovation; there’s just awesome awesome stuff in the space that I’d be happy to have in my shower, kitchen, or living room.


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