Karen Kilimnik's survey at the ICA in Philadelphia is appropriately and gloriously disorienting. Her work attacks on so many fronts that it's difficult to keep up, which is always half the thrill. Kilimnik has been working through some messy, overwhelming times, and she's quite happy to be our mirror.
Her use of the space in the main gallery is daring. I'd never seen it so empty.* By the time I walked to the next gallery though that emptiness was gone, and it's because of the room the artist has placed in the middle of the space. It reminded me a bit of Cornelia Parker's Cold, Dark Matter: An Exploded View, captured motion bursting outwards. That small room reaches out to the bloody walls that surround it.
Here's a view of the inside of the room with the world's coolest art security guard, Linda Harris, in the middle of it.
And here's one of the bloody walls, Manson-style. The show is replete with images of "shocking" American violence, and the pop comforts that we devour from the same plate. The only thing that Kilimnik seems surprised (and disappointed) by is our lack of surprise. Karen don't like Mondays. And she's shooting them down, one popular culture nightmare at a time.
*This emptiness seemed to throw the Inquirer's Edward J. Sozanski into a tizzy so deep he wrote an astonishingly pointless and pig-headed review. Wow. He's given new meaning to the phrase, "dead tree media".
Quite simply, Phoebe Washburn's installation for the ICA's ramp project series is one of the best things I've ever seen in the space. The little hallway of a world she's created here is irresistible. As much as I wanted to make my way to the second floor of the Kilimnik show, I found it difficult to leave the warm environs of Washburn's wood aquatic. There were so many angles to hold. (Pause. Get all glowy with the memory.) The artist has covered the ramp with wooden slats, inserting aquariums for relief and light. It was especially fun to look out at the street through the water and, yes, the golf balls. God, I loved this piece. Obviously, I enjoyed the Kilimnik, but this is the one I carried home. Amazing.