December 1995
by Jenifer P. Borum
pgs 91-92



Since the early '90s, Kenny Schachter has
staged consistently edgy group shows, typi-
cally for brief periods and usually in transi-
tional spaces. Late last spring, two exhibi-
tions showcased his signature, low-concept
approach to curating: "Looky Loo," held
at an established nonprofit space uptown,
and "High Anxiety," at a temporary
downtown site.
"Looky Loo" presented works with no
pretensions to the status of high art by
seven artists with a penchant for drawing
out the beauty of the ephemeral. All seven
pieces reflected the low-budget esthetic fa-
vored by Schachter: an unlikely mix of so-
phisticated art-critical issues and slacker
wit. Unapologetically artsy-craftsy (no
small feat) were Nina Bovasso's fluttery,
paste-and-paper collages and lumpy ce-
ramic teapots covered by knit tea cosys.
Rachel Harrison explored the expressive
possibilities of the color green with an ama-
teur painting of a lamp, a stack of paint
cups, and a shelf of canned greens after
Haim Steinbach. John LeKay rounded out
the show's fifth-grade art-expo look with a
messy mixed-media portrait bust of John
Merrick in his role as the Elephant Man,
which at once evoked Expressionist figura-
tion and prefab Halloween masks.
A playful irreverence also pervaded the
more conceptually based offerings in the
exhibition: Spencer Finch presented us
with a Warholesque video of himself,
dressed as a cop, eating an entire carton of
donuts; Jonathan Horowitz placed censor
boxes on a videotape of Legends of Porn
to create a deadpan "history" of art; and
Ross Knight simultaneously spoofed and
embraced the macho esthetic of race car
driving by building a convention booth
and logo banner. Literally writing herself
into the show, Devon Dikeou installed 30
marquees listing all the group exhibitions
on her resume, many of which included
the artists with whom she shared space in
this one.

This collision of high and low culture
was given fuller expression in Schachter's
downtown project. The appropriately cav-
ernous, gutted site of "High Anxiety" was
filled with heterogeneous works in which a
D.I.Y. Pop sensibility prevailed: Ilona
Malka's psychedelic wall-hanging As the
World Turns, n.d., Brendan Cass' art
brut-ish paintings spoofing careerist ab-
straction; and Richard Kern's disconcert-
ing black and white photographs with
comically nonsensical titles, to name but a
few. But it was Robert Chambers' hard-
ened blob of petrified hair gel that best em-
bodied the cheekiness of this exhibition-
far from offering a moralizing antiesthetic,
"High Anxiety" revealed the sublime
beauty in cultural excretions. Though
Schachter himself made several cameo ap-
pearances with works in both shows (his
collaboration with Curtis Cuffie being the
most notable), these were artist-driven
rather than curator-driven exhibitions,
which goes a long way toward explaining
their success.

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