Time Out New York / Mar 19–25, 2009

Jakob Kolding

Modernism's failure to realize its more utopian ideals is such a popular theme in contemporary art that one might suspect young artists are relieved such lofty goals were never attained. On the evidence of his second solo show at Team, Berlin artist Jakob Kolding is among them.

In the collages, prints and sculptures on display, Kolding exhibits a particular fascination with the shortcomings of city planning, highlighting a chronic disjunction between form and livability. Sometimes suggesting a remix of the sociological derivations found in the work of veteran British conceptualist Stephen Willats, the show's retro-futuristic sensibility imbues even the latest innovations and cultural notions with a haunting, nostalgic air.

Viewers are greeted with a stack of giveaway posters, which feature slogans about the use of urban space superimposed over images of street art, a marker-wielding kid and a generic grid design. References to graffiti recur throughout the show, along with allusions to DJ and skateboard culture, brutalist architecture, and nature in the form of the occasional tree branch or bird.

While all of this sounds busy, Kolding's aesthetic is in fact dour and lo-fi. He makes such extensive use of gray print and white space that the overall effect feels not only fragmented, it looks rather anemic. Best are the smaller collages, in which the interplay of image and text, complex iconography and niggling political inquiry, achieves a convincing synthesis.

Image: Jakob Kolding, Untitled (And Evil), 2009