Time Out New York / July 1–7, 2010

Josephine Meckseper
ELIZABETH DEE GALLERY

The sound of Bam Bam’s eerie acid-house classic “Where’s Your Child?” echoes in the fluorescent half-light of Josephine Meckseper’s new show, jibing nicely with its cold, colorless look. The tune forms the soundtrack to a video showing images of oil drilling and related protests from the ’80s TV shows Dallas and Dynasty. It’s hardly subtle, but the raw sociopolitical critique it offers resonates throughout the installation.

Here, in her usual manner, Meckseper presents a selection of found objects and appropriated images arranged according to the grammar of commercial display. With its slat walls, chrome racks and reflective ceiling, the gallery suggests a glam-goth Ricky’s, while the artifacts therein track the slow, tortured decay of the American military-industrial complex.

This time around, the crumbling auto trade is a particular focus. Sporty wheels, engine parts and hood insignia sit on mirrored pedestals or are paired with grilles and chains that hint at incarceration or enslavement. Two large photocopied diagrams of cars resemble X-rays of traumatized bodies, while a pair of shoes and a mannequin leg—the latter poised under a bell jar—trace a still more visceral connection evocative of Crash, author J.G. Ballard’s haunting paean to the violent union of metal and flesh. Oversize reproductions of newspaper ads for luxury watches drive home the end-times theme, while a second video in the back room, which is otherwise occupied only by three empty racks, boils it all down to a single shot of a shattered screen.

Image: Josephine Meckseper, Americanmuscle, 2010