Time Out New York / Aug 20–26, 2009

"Blood Drive"

There’s interactivity and then there’s interactivity, but this exhibition curated by Kate Levant takes audience participation to a new level. Blood and bloodletting have made select appearances in art before—Hermann Nitsch’s use of animal innards in his cathartic series of actions, “Orgien Mysterien Theater (Theatre of Orgies and Mysteries),” for example, or Franko B’s exploration of suffering through self-directed violence—but the idea of commissioning artists to produce promotional material for a blood drive, then staging said event at the show’s conclusion, is novel indeed. In a statement, Levant explains that she donates blood not as an altruistic act but in order to “partake in the regenerative process” that follows. Whether the six other artists she has assembled sympathize with her high-concept approach is unclear.

In most of the work, the show’s purported theme is subsumed by a grungy aesthetic that suggests the very opposite of anything designed to be conventionally persuasive. References to the hematological premise are only intermittently lucid; Brian Faucette makes brief mention of the anticipated procedure, in amusingly deadpan style, on a printout beginning. “We would like to take part of the inside of you and place it elsewhere.” And Levant’s own Waiting Area, a battered yellow couch accompanied by a table made of automotive debris, makes tenuous allusion to the titular procedure. But in most cases, the vital fluid seems to have incited prevarication, and this most potent of symbols comes to represent not life or its renewal, but rather the risk of anemia.

View of "Blood Drive," 2009