Jordan Wolfson Nominates Sean Raspet


Jordan Wolfson just wrapped an exhibition at the Swiss Institute in New York, and in February 2009 will have a solo at the CCA Wattis Institute in San Francisco. For Art Basel Miami Beach, Wolfson has created a performance in which two actors perform a script based on a letter Barnett Newman wrote to Clement Greenberg. Asked whose work he is most looking forward to seeing in Miami, Wolfson chose Sean Raspet, with whom he shared an apartment in their final year at RISD. Explains Wolfson, “I have always respected Sean’s artwork for its bizarre use of icons and conceptual tactics, that both confused and annoy me-in a good way.”

For Art Positions, Raspet’s irritating imagery takes the form of a filmic montage titled A Brief History comprising mostly stock photography, which the artist collected from the Internet over the last two years. He asks that viewers enter the viewing space one at a time and remain for the entirety of the film, a seven-minute brainwashing that exposes the pervasiveness of generic imagery. The montage is frustrating, but at times magnetic: Raspet collected similar photographs of different man looking in a mirror at 360 degrees; played in sequence, they run like stop-motion animation.

Art Positions takes place in narrow shipping containers on the beach: Raspet divided this space in half, so that visitors enter through a darkened corridor and a waiting room. In the vestibule is another video, featuring anxious men and women at eight frames per second, set to repetitive techno music. The lines to enter the booth create artificial scarcity—a Great Depression hand-out line in the middle of an art fair. Viewers emerge from the booth headchey, and unable to transmit the sensation—no documentation of the experience is allowed. Luckily, the final component of Raspet’s piece is a back-up hard drive, available for purchase and loaded with stock images—in case you’re preparing a Powerpoint presentation on the subject.

Jordan Wolfson performs on the Art Perform stage tonight, December 4, at 8 PM.