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5/25/2024

“The Manhattan Art Review”

 

Carl Theodor Dreyer, Ken Gonzales-Day, David Howe, Sigmar Polke, Zoe Pettijohn Schade, Rosemarie Trockel, Weegee - The Madness of Crowds - Carriage Trade - ****.5

 

Carriage Trade at it again with another edition of the best group show in town. Sure, The Passion of Joan of Arc is hard to beat, but for one thing, who else would put it in a group show, and, for two, who else could curate a group show that adequately fits it into the show's thesis and not just riding on Dreyer's coattails? Certainly no one else would put it next to an episode of The Twilight Zone ("The Monsters are Due on Maple Street"). But why not? It's a tragedy that only Carriage Trade would, because such leaps of associative logic are exactly what good curation consists of. Namely, bringing the apparently unlike together into something that suggests correlations that aren't readily apparent. It's not even that hard to make those connections if you're aided by a good idea, as this show is with the subject of the crowd, specifically mob rule and the vindictive retribution of a mass that has perceived a real or imagined persecution. Thus we get Joan of Arc and suburban paranoia, but also student protests (a student film featuring Martin Scorsese and Harvey Keitel, police manuals on riots), the edifices of state and authority (Pettijohn Schade's crumbling monuments, Trockel's left side of her diptych of people climbing the walls of the Capitol), the unreality of digital life (Howe's North Korean propaganda-style painting of Mark Zuckerberg, Trockel's right side of the diptych of a woman in a VR sci-fi headset), murder (Weegee's photo of a crowd after a shooting), and lynchings (Ken Gonzales-Day's unbelievable collection of lynching postcards with the victims edited out, excising the violence-porn spectacle but retaining all the horror that such things actually existed). The show presents real-life phenomena without flat didactics, which is what separates something like Trockel's painting, a measured reflection on our contemporary condition of mass hysteria and distantiation, from the insipid tut-tutting of all that anti-Drumpf art that mistakes hysterical virtue-signaling for praxis. To the extent that art is political at all it does so by representing the nuance and complexity of life instead of mere sloganeering, and it's a difficult task to articulate that. By nature it's far more ambiguous than most people are comfortable with in these times where social polarization demands constant affirmations of whichever camp one belongs to, but, like curation, if you cut corners and go for the obvious you're not likely to end up accomplishing very much.

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CARRIAGE TRADE

277 Grand Street 2nd Floor, www.carriagetrade.org

Thu - Sun 1pm to 6pm

MUST SEE

Carl Theodor Dreyer, Ken Gonzales-Day, David Howe, Sigmar Polke, Zoe Pettijohn Schade, Rosemarie Trockel, Weegee

Madness of Crowds

May 16 - June 30, 2024

Reception: Thursday, May 16th, 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm

The Madness of Crowds incorporates contemporary and historical art within a moment where the technological promises of a united society of the future show signs regressing into darker, fearful worlds that more closely resemble the past.

press release

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"The Madness of Crowds"

Where: carriage trade

When: May 16 - June 30

Why It's Worth A Look: "The Madness of Crowds" at carriage trade explores the dynamics of group behavior and societal influence. Anchored around Carl Theodor Dreyer's seminal 1929 film, The Passion of Joan of Arc, the exhibition weaves together both contemporary artists such as Ken Gonzales-Day with historical works. The show delves into themes of persecution, tribalism, and modern-day digital witch hunts.

Know Before You Go: The silent film, grounded in the historical record of Joan of Arc's trial, is a portrayal of mob mentality and personal martyrdom examining how individual identity withstands or succumbs to the pressures of collective judgement.

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Art Fairs

The Spring Break Art Fair Once Again Brings
Quirky Surprises to Los Angeles, From Musical Chandeliers to Live Mystery Tattooing

The popular fair returns for its West Coast outing.

Sarah Cascone, February 16, 2023

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David Howe at his booth at Spring Break Art Show Los Angeles 2023.
Photo by Sarah Cascone.

Young People, Follow the Beloved Leader!

Like any art fair, Spring Break also has its fair share of paintings, including a trio of monumental canvases by David Howe that ape North Korean propaganda art, replacing Kim Jong-un with Meta founder Mark Zuckerberg. An investor and Silicon Valley veteran in his 70s (and the founder of New York gallery 601 Art Space), Howe actually started what he calls the “Howe Factory” in Brooklyn to produce the works, since he is trained as a photographer, not a painter.

“The only thing that I painted was my signature on the back,” he admitted.

The paintings, curated by Jac Lahav, range in price from $24,000 to $32,000, plus a custom car dealership inflatable figure with Zuckerberg’s face for $2,200, and $900 posters.

David Howe, Young People Follow the Beloved Leader (2022).
Courtesy of the artist.

Howe was inspired to create the series after stumbling across images of the original paintings, which are rarely shown in the West, online. Struck by the utopian vibe of the works, depicting a murderous ruler as a benevolent figure, Howe remade them as a commentary on the incredible power that Facebook’s wide reach gives Zuckerberg, even though the tech mogul rarely flaunts his influence.

The artist wasn’t trying to suggest that Zuckerberg was an evil dictator, exactly—”I don’t know if you need to be worried about it,” he said, “but maybe there are aspects of it that you need to be worried about.”

Spring Break Art Show is on view at Skylight Culver City, 5880 Adams Boulevard, Culver City Arts District, Los Angles, February 15–19, 2023. 

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