Timing is everything. I was just lucky enough myself to catch this show on the last day of the exhibit, ducking in on my way to Chelsea Piers for some R & R.
Robert Gober’s installation came at the precise moment when the leadership of the Catholic Church changed hands. The headless body of Christ on the Cross was surely of the moment, and as a metaphor and portent for the future of the Church this installation hit the proverbial nail on the head, as it were.
Art based on the events of 9/11 comes at a time when many artists across disciplines ranging from theater, dance, film, graphic novels are grappling with an event that will shape the world we live for a long time. New York artists of all stripes are just now recovering from the shock and are able to address this harrowing era in ways that may help all of us come to terms, Art is an important and potent ritual that is vital to survival and recovery from tragic events.
Robert Gober does not shy away from the most difficult subject nor does he give us easy answers, smug platitudes or quick fixes of cathartic grief. This installation currently served as the memorial to those who perished; at least that may have been the artist’s intention. But an more apt and compelling memorial will be hard to find.
“Mr. Gober has turned the Marks gallery into a kind of church, complete with a central aisle, an altar and two inaccessible side chapels. When we peek through the nearly closed doors of those chambers, we see the legs of a figure (male in one case, female in the other) seated in a bathtub with water running from its handmade pewter faucet.
There is even clergy: the first work on display involves a priest's shirt and collar. And also the suggestion of stained-glass windows, with their traditional tales of trials and tribulations: a suite of eight drawings, four on each side wall, that depict fleeting, partial views of embracing couples. They are drawn on replicas of two-page sheets from The New York Times of Sept. 12, 2001, which have, appropriately, been drained of color. The newspaper pages on one wall have been reproduced normally; the opposite wall has mirror images of the same pages, a device that knits the room together spatially and also implies that in some way we are still stuck in the reported events.”
Roberta Smith NYTimes
Published: March 25, 2005
Robert Gober has produced a large-scale installation of new sculpture exploring questions regarding sexuality, human relationships, nature, and religion, all informed by the current political climate. The artist conceived this new body of work over a three-year period, beginning shortly after the events of September 11, 2001, and culminating shortly after the recent presidential election.
-from the the Matthew Marks Gallery, 522 West 22nd Street.
The next exhibition @ the Matthew Marks gallery space will be Jasper Johns: Catenary, opening May 7, 2005. Something to look forward to, hopefully Mr. Johns will be in good form for when 'he is good he is very good, and when he is bad...'