Tales From New York: Skin Fruit!

skinfruit100405_560In 1985, world-renowned Greek art collector Dakis Joannou acquired One Ball Total Equilibrium Tank after viewing the work at Jeff Koons’s “Equilibriums” exhibition in the Lower East Side in New York City. In many respects One Ball Total Equilibrium Tank functions as a keystone piece indicative of the ideology and focus of Koons’ artistic practice, which is built on ways of seeing, both internalizing and realizing the self.  A pristine Spaulding basketball with goose pimpled treads is suspended in the center of an airtight water chamber, devoid of oxygen, motion, and any traces of the human hand.  The object through which we are most familiar by our ability to touch is only available to us behind a veneer of glass.  By manufacturing a strong divide between the viewer and the object inside the case, the tank becomes a source of kaleidoscopic reflection manipulating the appearance of any surrounding art objects. The introspection Koons arouses within the viewer speaks to the inspiration of his curatorial feet for “Skin Fruit: Selections from the Dakis Joannou Collection”, which just ended its three-month tenure at The New Museum in New York City.

In a friendly twist of roles, Koons selected works from Dakis Joannou’s own collection to create a fantastical spectacle that transformed the floors of the New Museum into a fun house of contemporary art: towering sculptures constructed of fragmented matter; a daily performance of a passerby who strips from their street clothes into a loin cloth and crown of thorns, only to hang from a crucifix outfitted with a bicycle seat; and even a full-on chorus of museum guards singing “this is propaganda” in a tone similar to a Gregorian chant.

The fourth floor of the exhibit proves to be the most visually diverse and confounding as the elevator opens and the viewer is aligned with David Altmejd’s The Cave, a towering shard of glass that divides and refracts Charles Ray’s Fall ’91, a female mannequin outfitted in a blue skirt suit.  She would be considered dainty and feminine if not for her enlarged proportions and nine-foot stature.  Positioned directly across from the mannequin is a sparkling and bedazzled streetwalker, Liza Lou’s Super Sister, who cocks a gun against her wide hips.  The positioning seems intentional as it signals hyper femininity and sexuality that become conflated through the single prism of The Cave.

Descending upon each floor, the viewer not only witnesses the complete invagination of the body and its vulnerability, but the viewer themselves become untangled, and unglued in their efforts to gain understanding. The human form is continually considered and reconsidered through a literal and metaphorical dissection of “skin.” Like Urs Fischer’s melting wax sculpture What if the Phone Rings—in a constant state of decay as the candles that are lit inside the mold cause the sculpture to melt and disintegrate on the floor.

Perhaps it is this type of embedded catharsis within “Skin Fruit” that makes it linger with you days after you left the museum, reminding us that art is a living entity which sheds its own skin.

- By A. Moret

Related Los Angeles news:

This Sunday, June 13th, at 10 AM, the A.N. Abell Auction Co.—a family business run out of the City of Commerce since 1916—will hold its Spring Fine Art and Antique Auction. Normally, this event is the LA Art World’s best kept secret, as it is confined to invitees only. But this year, everyone’s invited. And among the amazing items up for grabs are two exemplary works by iconoclastic, American contemporary artist, Jeff Koons.

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