The Brant Foundation Announces Jonathan Horowitz Occupy Greenwich
May 8th, 2016
The Brant Foundation announces Jonathan Horowitz Occupy Greenwich, on view from May 8, 2016 – October 2016. Opening amid the presidential election season, the exhibition is comprised mostly of work made over the course of Barack Obama’s eight-year presidency. As such, the exhibition presents a timely opportunity to examine Horowitz’s ever-evolving practice within the context of the current political landscape.
Since the early 1990s, Horowitz has created work that combines the imagery and ambivalence of Pop Art with the engaged criticality of conceptualism. His work in video, sculpture, painting and photography examines the deep-seated links between consumerism and political consciousness, as well as the political silences of postwar art. Recent painting projects have explored the personal psychology of mark making, at times prominently employing the hands of others. Appropriation of both pop cultural and art historical sources figures heavily in the show, with imagery transformed through both technology and the human hand.
Anchoring the exhibition is the installation November 4, 2008, which re-stages the day eight years ago when Obama was elected president. In the piece, 19 hours of CNN and Fox News coverage (originally presented as live feeds) play on back-to-back monitors in the center of a room. Red and blue carpets divide the space into opposing sides and 42 official presidential portraits circle the room, with Obama’s portrait in waiting on the floor.
Upon arrival at the Foundation, viewers are confronted by a functional solar panel sculpture on the lawn, which powers Horowitz’s video Apocalypto Now inside. Using found footage, the film weaves narratives on the history of the Hollywood disaster movie, climate change, terrorism, and the Christian apocalypse. In another room, a human scale, bronze statue of Hillary Clinton greets visitors. Rendered in the style of a 1970’s greeting card figurine, the sculpture is captioned “Hillary Clinton is a Person Too,” evoking Clinton’s vilification as both a political leader and a powerful woman.
Notwithstanding its political undertones, viewer participation and social interaction are recurring tenets of Horowitz’s work. A sculptural installation titled Free Store invites viewers to leave objects that they wish to discard and take away whatever they would like. Another work, Contribution Cubes, is a series of Plexiglas donation boxes each dedicated to a different charitable or political organization. Suggesting minimalist sculpture and relational aesthetics, the work describes the population that passes through the exhibition space through the varying donation amounts that accumulate. 402 Dots, the first of Horowitz’s Dot Paintings, is a monumentally scaled work comprised of 402 canvases, each painted by a different person. Participants in the project were instructed to paint a perfect, solid black dot with an 8-inch diameter in the center of a 12-inch square canvas, using only provided paint and brushes. The resulting dots all differ in size, shape, position, and texture. The paintings are hung in a brick pattern, suggesting a blown-up field of irregular Ben-Day dots. Like a vast population, together they create a paean to human struggle, acceptance, and individuality.