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Home » Go See – New York: Black Acid Co-op at Deitch Projects Through August 15, 2009

Go See – New York: Black Acid Co-op at Deitch Projects Through August 15, 2009

July 24th, 2009

Jonah Freeman, Justin Lowe, Black Acid Co-op, Deitch Projects-
Jonah Freeman and Justin Lowe, Black Acid Co-op installation view via Deitch Projects

Until August 15, “Black Acid Co-op,” a collaboration between New York artists Jonah Freeman and Justin Lowe, transforms Deitch Projects’ SoHo space into a series of interconnected room-size installations, creating a walk-in simulation of the grungy interior of a house whose occupants have been producing crystal methamphetamine.  After signing a liability waiver, visitors penetrate into a warren-like series of rooms and corridors, ranging from a greenhouse, a charred kitchen, or a Chinatown variety store, that give off a strong vibe of decrepitude and paranoia.  In this labor-intensive and highly-detailed project, Freeman and Lowe transform medicine into meth, detritus into art, gallery space into drug den.

Jonah Freeman, Justin Lowe, Black Acid Co-op, Deitch Projects3
Jonah Freeman and Justin Lowe, Black Acid Co-op installation view via Deitch Projects

Related Links:
Exhibition Page [Deitch Projects]
Down a Rabbit Hole to Meth and its Dysfunction [NY Times]
Acid House
[Artforum]
“Black Acid Co-op” at Deitch Projects [Vogue.com]

Each room is related to the theme of alchemy, the transformation of matter from one form to another.  This is most apparent in the dilapidated crystal meth lab, stocked with ingredients and materials that are used to produce the highly combustible drug – cold medicine, matches, glass jugs and beakers, hot plates and acid. Traces of meth-lab meltdowns are visible everywhere, from the singed and burned furniture and plyboard walls, to the charred remains of a previous kitchen, destroyed by a meth-making explosion.  Alchemy is also referenced in Freeman and Lowe’s frequent references to astrology – alchemy and astrology are thought to complement each other in the search for hidden knowledge.

Jonah Freeman, Justin Lowe, Black Acid Co-op, Deitch Projects
Judah Freeman and Justin Lowe, Black Acid Co-op installation view via Deitch Projects

Alchemy also refers to the process by which paradoxical results are achieved, or incompatible elements are combined with no obvious rational explanation, which explains the disconnect between the series of rooms. At one point, visitors crawl through a hole punched in a wall to find themselves in a formal gallery space, complete with plush red velvet carpeting.  On the top floor of the gallery, up a narrow staircase, is a wooden pantry, with shelves lined with jars filled with a murky liquid, containing books, feathers, cacti, or a telephone cord. In one corner, a couple of stuffed dogs are sleeping.

Jonah Freeman, Justin Lowe, Black Acid Co-op, Deitch Projects2
Judah Freeman and Justin Lowe, Black Acid Co-op installation view via Deitch Projects

Jonah Freeman, Justin Lowe, Black Acid Co-op, Deitch Projects4
Jonah Freeman and Justin Lowe, Black Acid Co-op installation view via Deitch Projects

“Black Acid Co-op” is the third incarnation of Justin Lowe and Jonah Freeman’s collaboration.  Along with Alexandre Singh, they began the cycle of work with a commissioned installation called “Hello Meth Lab In The Sun” at Ballroom Marfa, an alternative space in Marfa, Texas.  Later that year, the work was slightly modified and transplanted to Art Basel Miami 2008, where it was installed in a condo-project under contstruction and became a sort of sleeper hit and generated a good amount of buzz and traffic.  It was in Miami that Jeffrey Deitch viewed the installation and began the process of bringing it to his gallery in New York.   In the wake of controversial New York artist Dash Snow’s death from an overdose on July 14th, Black Acid Co-op takes on an additional poignancy, raising questions about the significance of drug culture as an artistic subject.

Jonah Freeman, Justin Lowe, Black Acid Co-op, Deitch Projects --
Jonah Freeman and Justin Lowe, Black Acid Co-op Installation View via NY Times

Jonah Freeman, Justin Lowe, Black Acid Co-op, Deitch Projects white room
Jonah Freeman and Justin Lowe, Black Acid Co-op installation view via NY Times

Jonah Freeman, Justin Lowe, Black Acid Co-op, Deitch Projects - book
Black Acid Co-op poster via Deitch Projects

– Madeleine Compagnon

One Response to “Go See – New York: Black Acid Co-op at Deitch Projects Through August 15, 2009”

  1. Art, Schooled: Rumormongering with Jeffrey Deitch, Gamechanger Says:

    [...] and pasties-attired artists unleashed on Manhattan) – A DIY Michel Gondry film set – A makeshift meth lab – A wall of rotting bananas courtesy of design guru Stefan Sagmeister – A two-person [...]

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