New York – Brad Troemel: “On View: Selections from the Troemel Collection” at Zach Feuer Through March 28th, 2015

March 16th, 2015

Brad Troemel, Wall Mount for Vintage Furby Collection (2015), via Art Observed
Brad Troemel, Wall Mount for Vintage Furby Collection (2015), via Art Observed

For the past several years, The Jogging co-founder Brad Troemel has been pushing his focus on commodity consumption, appropriation and use to new highs.  There were his works during a residency The Still House Group, vacuum-sealed fish and wild grasses on canvas that pushed notions of the still-life to a shockingly immediate result, not to mention his first show with Zach Feuer last year, when the artist showed a series of Semiotext(e) publications combined with organic raw beans and fake dreadlocks.  For his second exhibition with the gallery, Troemel drives his work forward yet again, examining the palimpsestic ideologies of the art world from both inside and out.

Brad Troemel, Jane Seymour 'Flowers 3', 2013 + 1938-2010 PDS JEFFERSON NICKEL COMPLETE SET WITH PROOF 207 COINS SUPER BU (2015), via Art Observed
Brad Troemel, Jane Seymour ‘Flowers 3′, 2013 + 1938-2010 PDS JEFFERSON NICKEL COMPLETE SET WITH PROOF 207 COINS SUPER BU (2015), via Art Observed

The exhibition is something of a confounding experience for initial viewers: works by “CTA’s (Celebrity-Turned-Artists, as Troemel calls them),” including pieces by former Guns ‘N Roses guitarist Buckethead, and Brandon Boyd, lead singer of Incubus.  Incorporating these works into his own signature vacuum-sealed, cryptocurrency-adorned techniques, Troemel effectively claims them as his own, emphasizing his ownership of the works as his entitlement to re-purpose and re-exhibit them.

Brad Troemel, On View: Selections from the Troemel Collection (Installation View), via Art Observed
Brad Troemel, On View: Selections from the Troemel Collection (Installation View), via Art Observed

The objects Troemel chooses are specific in their packaging of cultural value, icons that express a distinct ideological position that is still distinctly marketable, particularly in terms of the high-minded vantage point of fine art, or the high yields of the art market.  Perhaps most interesting is the notion of entitlement to production, the assumption of the mantle “artist” by any number of personalities from across the spectrum of public celebrity.  That Bam Margera of Jackass-fame can assume carte blanche places the work itself as an extension of his own notoriety, a marketable commodity with a nicely bundled cultural backdrop.

Brad Troemel, On View: Selections from the Troemel Collection (Installation View), via Art Observed

Brad Troemel, On View: Selections from the Troemel Collection (Installation View), via Art Observed

What makes his work here particularly notable is his understanding of what these pieces, both his and his subjects, do in conjunction, the sort of cross-cultural exchange that made his work with The Jogging an icon of the early years of Tumblr’s participatory art environments.  Combining these vantage points, Troemel has created shockingly bizarre portraits of modernity, where market functions, aesthetics, and identity construction are often inextricable.  Nowhere is this better seen than his full-wall installation of mountain climbing grips and limited edition Furby’s from McDonald’s Happy Meals, a massive cluster that plays its gallery context against its divergent symbols of “lifestyle sports” and industrial fast food.

Brad Troemel  (2) Iris 3DR Drone + (4) Vintage Vivienne Westwood SEX Sweaters (2015), via Art Observed
Brad Troemel, (2) Iris 3DR Drone + (4) Vintage Vivienne Westwood SEX Sweaters (2015), via Art Observed

Brad Troemel, Collection Shelves (2015), via Art Observed
Brad Troemel, Collection Shelves (2015), via Art Observed

Bemoaning of the term “curator” in the art world is in vogue, and Troemel seems particularly aware of it.  Titling the show Selections from the Troemel Collection, his acts of semiotic collision, and what’s more, his emphasis on “ownership,” is deliberate in its stark contrast, forcing a gray area between aesthetic rigor and mass commodity aggravated by each side’s longing for the other.

On View: Selections from the Troemel Collection is on view through March 28th.

— D. Creahan

Read more:
“Brad Troemel on “the Supreme Confidence Game” and the Phenomenon of the Celebrity-Turned-Artist” [Artspace]
Zach Feuer [Exhibition Site]
Artist’s Website [Brad Troemel]