Time Out New York / Apr 1–7, 2010

Jedediah Caesar

The studio in which Jedediah Caesar produced much of the work for his current show was a distinctly unconventional one—Socrates Sculpture Park in Long Island City. To make the latest in his “Horizon” series, the Los Angeles artist not only explored the former landfill, but also drilled it full of holes, casting one such excavation to create the large, gray, moundlike form that’s on display here. Accompanying it are several wall-mounted works constructed from panels of what the gallery statement describes as “a unique amalgamation of resin, earth and detritus.” Resembling multicolored sponge, and studded with chunks of largely unidentifiable and frequently toxic-looking matter, Caesar’s signature stuff is an unlovely blend that suggests various inspirations, from Land Art to collage and even experimental film.

But while Caesar would doubtless acknowledge the influence of Spiral Jetty creator Robert Smithson—and perhaps French torn-poster virtuoso Jacques Villeglé or Mothlight director Stan Brakhage—he has yet to add a substantive postscript to their complex legacies. Though well-intentioned in his address of ecological concerns, and commendable, too, in his exploratory approach to materials, the artist seems to lose his way between green space and white cube.

There’s an awkwardness to the arrangements here that detracts from the genuine interest residing in their internal composition and surface texture. The time that Caesar spent roughing it in Queens may have been revelatory for him, but the result doesn’t communicate that experience as fully as it could now that it’s in Chelsea.

Image: Jedediah Caesar, installation view