ART IN REVIEW; 'Second Sight'
By HOLLAND COTTER
March 22, 2002
Hunter College Times Square Gallery
450 West 41st Street, Clinton
Through April 20 ''Second Sight'' is an art school graduate show times two,
in which five Master of Fine Arts candidates at Hunter College -- Rob Carter,
Sian Foulkes, Casey Ruble, Allyson Spellacy and Lynn Sullivan -- have chosen
works by the program's alumni of the last decade. Such collegial tributes usually
feel merely dutiful, but this one doesn't. Several of the artists chosen are
already familiar in the larger art world, and the work they show here would
be interesting in any context.
At the top of the list comes a video by Omer Fast, a young New Yorker who is
also in the 2002 Whitney Biennial. Titled ''CNNconcatenated,'' the piece is
a rapid-fire stream of isolated words, phrases and vocal ticks edited from tapes
of anchors and commentators on thousands of television newscasts, with the sound
bytes edited together to produce a startlingly personal spoken rumination on
the fear of mortality. Conceptually, there are connections to the labor-intensive
editing work of Paul Pfeiffer (who is in ''Second Sight''), but Mr. Fast's work
here, as in the biennial, is distinctive and impressive.
Contributions to the Hunter show by other artists also look good. They include
Diana Cooper's fragile Rube Goldbergian reliefs, handwrought sound-and-light
ensembles by Paul Johnson and John Roach's Fluxus-inspired kinetic assemblages.
Elizabeth Simonson's abstract patterned murals make an eye-tickling foil to
Wade Guyton's shrewdly obtuse, mirrored sculpture. Alex Villar and Jillian McDonald
keep performance in the picture, the latter with regular on-site appearances
at the gallery. So does Cheryl Donegan with a painting-made-torturous video
and Oliver Herring with a video-as-painting.
Mr. Herring is best known for his 1990's soft sculptures woven from small, interlocking
strips of reflective Mylar and tape. His recent videos continue this incremental
approach. Pieced together frame by frame from countless shots of studio-posed
models, they add up to a stop-motion animation in which changes in movement
and color seem at once jerky and magical. In one piece at Hunter a man's head
becomes a shifting Mondrianesque play of chromatic geometry; in another his
torso seems to burst spontaneously into decorative flower.
In his current solo at the Max Protetch Gallery in Chelsea, ''Little Dances
of Misfortunes'' (through March 30), Mr. Herring expands this format to include
a team of models wearing dark clothes and phosphorescent paint who perform in
pieces of video choreography.
With a tinkly score and figures nude and clothed appearing and dissolving, the
effect is both primitive and sophisticated, sexy and childlike, bringing to
mind James Lee Byars, Buster Keaton, Diaghilev and the bargain-basement brilliance
of Ethyl Eichelberger, Mr. Herring's longtime muse. It's all very much in the
handcrafted, start-from-scratch mode that is gaining many adherents now, particularly
in film, but which this artist has been exploring for years.