An alchemy of sorts permeates works on view in Liminality, currently on view at the groundbreaking new project space, THE BORDER, at the 56 Bogart building in Bushwick. Charting the uncertain precipice between being and transforming, Liminality features artists John Drue Scott Worrell, Frank Wang Yefeng, and Jamie Martinez working in mixed media to evoke an uncanny and genre-bending surrealism. On view at THE BORDER through October 7, Liminality is a unique glimpse at a thoroughly contemporary blend of surrealism spanning new technology and classical forms, sculptural forms and projections alike.
Worrell’s sculpture, “It Looks Like a Dead Body,” (2018) takes a tongue-in-cheek approach to upending classical expectations in fine art. Cool, edgy and timeless, Worrell’s sculpted lamb seemingly forged of metal rotating outward from a concrete-looking plinth defies most tradition expectations related to sculpture. The sheep seems far too heavy to float in the air with its feet: in trompe l’oeil fashion, as it turns out that the sculpture is not, in fact, made of metal. Composed of wood, epoxy and graphite, this sheep mounts on an exotic plinth that consists of a jagged opening seemingly revealing a bright canary yellow interior. To my surprise, the entire sculpture is one whole piece, completely subverting the expectations of the viewer. “It Looks Like a Dead Body” traces the evolution of traditional sculpture toward revisioning a brave new contemporary surrealism, evincing the liminal qualities derived from the exhibit title. Worrell’s MFA from the Yale School of Art supports this conceptually innovative and provocative work, a strong showing in a line of exhibits that the artist has participated in across the US, from coast to coast.
The playful, quixotic spirit of Frank Wang Yefeng’s works “Lockers 02” (2018) and “Take It Easy” (2018) set the tone for this unpredictable exhibition. Yefeng repurposes an LED portable fan in relation to an animation and linked through electronic setup to combine text-based impulses with new media abstraction. This contemporary approach to assemblage is mirrored in lockers wrapped in gold vinyl, integrated again with electronics looping animations throughout. Though the presence of the electronics can be easily gauged, their screens are in some cases hidden from view: creating an elongated moment of intrigue. A tiny golden sculpture hovers above in the corner, surveying the scene. Yefeng’s works hover at the borderline of conscious abandon and unwitting absurdity.
Anchoring the show’s theme are works by Jamie Martinez framing the actual confines of space: a space, it bears noting, that is filled with a few inches of soil on the floor. The exhibit is taken from germination to harvest with Martinez’ “Golden Passage to the Underworld” (2018) and “Silver Passage to the Underworld” (2018.) Incorporating thread, spray point, oil and acrylic into a contemporary vision easily referencing the Egyptian Book of the Dead, at least to the casual observer, Martinez symbolically links the threads of life and fate into an ancient, indecipherable hieroglyphic text. He evokes the delicate and the timeless in equal measure, standing on the boundary delineating old from new, death and rebirth.
Liminality is open during Bushwick Open Studios, Sept 29 & 30, and Saturdays & Sundays from 1-6 pm through October 14th
Audra Lambert is a freelance arts contributor and independent curator based in New York City. Her articles can be found in Whitehot Mag, Art Nerd NY, Artefuse, Examiner and more. The author focuses on participatory and public art projects with an emphasis on emerging and established female artists. She is co-founder of alt_break art fair, a nonprofit art fair fostering dialogue between community-based social justice nonprofits and the arts. Currently completing a Master’s thesis in Modern/Contemporary Art at City College of New York, her curated projects and ongoing coverage of interdisciplinary art projects can be found on ANTE. (www.antecedentprojects.com), an online art platform showcasing contemporary arts and culture, which may or may not be secretly run by llamas on Mars.