Urs Fischer’s opening at Gavin Brown Enterprises on Greenwich Street was a quiet, exuberant affair. On a quiet, damp corner in the West Village, a murmur could be heard from the gallery. As we walked into the space, it was your typical opening, well-dressed people in black holding cups of warming beer in a vacant white room. However, this room gave way to a little doorway, a portal, literally, into the artwork that we had come to partake of. Here on the wall, a small rectangular hole frames the artist’s world, and as he beckons us inside, he simultaneously forces us to bow and lower our eyes as we enter into a new domain.
Indeed, once we passed through the doorway, the terrain changed dramatically. In fact, I caught myself with my hands on rugged concrete, as my heel caught the jagged edge of a stone and I tripped down a declining plane of red dirt. Essentially, the entire gallery, from the ends of the walls downwards, was dug out, a vast hole, carefully shaped and forming a sort of inverse pyramid, a human-scale ant lion larvae trap pulling the bewondered and admiring art worlders into its depths. I steadied my gait and took a few steps upwards to my right, where a narrow ledge hugged the “perimeter” of the piece.
Gazing downwards, I saw two girls taking photographs of those at various heights around them. Upwards, a framework of minimal flourescent lights beamed impartially at the setting below. People crouching, lounging, lingering, marveling, smoking cigarettes, now and again a prominent art critic emerging and saying triumphantly, “Take my picture! I’m going to use this in lecture!” or a personality gallerist confiding, “You know, when we excavated our Wooster space, we found a body…”
Fischer and Mr. Brown have combined good faith and good work in this immersing show. However, this may not be the first time the Fischer has been given full rein by a prominent dealer. In a previous article noting that several “noticeable” works at Art Basel in June were created by artists exhibiting in the concurrent Venice Biennale 2007, the New York Times called Presenhuber’s (Zurich) booth “striking” remarking that the artist had “designed the entire installation, which includes a series of cast aluminum and enamel doors.” Similarly, the Gucci fête in the Palazzo Grassi, showcasing Pinault’s collection took place all around and below an enormous three story high Fischer sculpture made of hundreds of framed photographs that spilled all around in puddle on the floor as well. If you didn’t make it to Basel this year or to the fabulous parties celebrating the opening of this year’s Biennale, don’t worry. Go and visit Gavin Brown.
The show is up until November 24th, at Gavin Brown Enterprises 620 Greenwich Street (at Leroy just about Houston).