Time Out New York / Aug 13–19, 2009

“On the Pleasure of Hating: Love turns, with a little indulgence, into indifference or disgust; Hatred alone is immortal.”

One of the more amusing talking points on pop critic Simon Reynolds’s Blissblog lately has been the idea of updating Johnny Rotten’s I HATE PINK FLOYD T-shirt to target some sacred cows of new music. The game has legs enough to suggest that William Hazlitt may have been onto something with “On the Pleasure of Hating,” an 1823 essay exploring the still-provocative notion that abhorrence might be a sustaining and even joy-inducing force. And while the objects in this exhibition don’t immediately radiate undying disgust, they do represent an intriguing—if low-key—variety of positive approaches to negative emotion. Retaining a black-painted wall from the previous show to ramp up his own project’s darkness, curator David Hunt installs work by six artists who orbit Hazlitt’s barbed suggestion.

The most successful works in the show contrast hatred with its customary opposite. Mike Quinn charts his torturous breakup with an old girlfriend, comparing it to the sporting rivalry between Michael Jordan and Isiah Thomas while roping in a mess of materials including booze and pills to connote the toll such battles take. Dario Robleto commemorates another face-off between adversaries from a different sport, boxers Sonny Liston and Muhammad Ali. Recreating Liston’s gloves, Robleto memorializes a fighter destined for total eclipse by a rival assured of lasting greatness. Other works, like Nicolas Lobo’s bust of “ultimate hater” Charlton Heston and Josh Faught’s assemblage of fabric scraps and self-help books, don’t bite as deeply.

Anyone for an I HATE DAVID HUNT T-shirt?

Image: View of "On the Pleasure of Hating," 2009