A Punk In Paris, Beyonce, And More Flying Condoms

Who could ever predict that ‘whimsical, flying condoms’ might become the art world’s sleeper meme for the spring season? I’ve already discussed Michael Mahalchick’s recently opened show, in which a poster of Keanu Reeves is decorated with brightly colored prophylactics; now, having finally made it to Jordan Wolfson’s exhibition at Zwirner, I can see that this mini-theme is officially ascendant (tumescent?).  The centerpiece is Wolfson’s Raspberry Poser, a 13:54 looped video that combines live action, animation, and various digital effects. The camera zooms in and through a number of familiar and slightly generic places–New York City streets, the unpopulated interiors of plush apartments–over which a floppingly acrobatic condom cavorts, filled with what appear to be red, heart-shaped candies that periodically spill out all over the place. This is all set to a number of pop songs, including Mazzy Star’s Fade Into You and two versions of Beyonce’s Sweet Dreams. The musical segments are intercut with animations in which a tough-looking manchild (whom a catalog essay smartly identifies as a sort of grown-up version of the kid from Calvin & Hobbes) smokes cigarettes and, several times, self-eviscerates, his liberated organs doing a shuffling dance as he bleeds out.

All pretty normal, right? Just wait until you get to the bits where Wolfson himself appears as a generic ‘punk,’ walking around Paris in a leather jacket marked up to celebrate Iggy Pop, carrying a bag of baguettes. He checks his smartphone; harasses strangers; pulls his pants down and humps the grass; and, at one point, appears in hastily-applied blackface, chatting up some guy on a park bench.

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The video is paired with a number of mixed-media works that combine found and original imagery. One work includes a stock image of a woman in the guise of Rosie the Riveter, her portrait marred by bumper stickers advertising CRIPPLED SEX or claiming that “Socrates was an asshole.”

On one hand, this all reeks strongly of disjointed shock-and-awe. But there’s something deeply compelling about whatever it is Wolfson is up to. He’s intelligently obscene, not afraid to entertain, and clearly interested–as are so many younger artists these days–in mirroring the informationally overloaded mindfuck that is our digitally enabled, 21st-century existence.

It’s also nice to think of some of these impolite ‘paintings’ (which reference masturbation,  a certain 4-letter pejorative for the female anatomy, and poetic nonsense like “Choco Nose! Boom Murder! Money”) hanging on the wall of a collector who is trying, probably desperately, to not seem like a prude. Hey, maybe they’ll end up at Leo’s house! The Wolf of Wall Street star is clearly an aficionado of the next wave of flying-condom-based practice; he was chatting up gallery staff alongside Tobey Maguire when I visited.

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