Friday, July 23, 2010

‘Heat Wave’: Lombard-Freid Projects


Source: NY Times

One of Bani Abidi’s photographs of Christian and Hindu residents of Karachi, Pakistan, during Ramadan, from the exhibition “Heat Wave” at Lombard-Freid Projects in Chelsea.

Lombard-Freid Projects, which moves to a new Chelsea address in September, closes out its tenure in its current digs with a show of five youngish international artists, all of them interesting, even if they don’t come across at full strength here.

Atmospheric photographs by Bani Abidi, who was born in Pakistan, make the strongest impression. In them, individual residents of Karachi are seen alone at dusk in a neighborhood street, doing chores or relaxing as if they were in their homes. Dates in the titles indicate that the pictures were taken during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, though the people portrayed are members of the city’s Hindu and Christian minorities. They look at once isolated and conspicuous.

Mural-size cartoon fantasies by the Indonesian artist Eko Nugroho were a hit of the 2007 Asia Pacific Triennial, and the small drawings and embroideries in this show of human figures with architectural appendages catch something of their surreal flavor.

Mounira al Solh, born in Lebanon, shows photographs and a video focused on a clubby group of middle-aged men in Beirut who pass their days, in times of war and peace, working on their tans.

War, or conflict, is the overt subject of work by two artists, Noa Charuvi and Maya Schindler, born in Israel and now living in New York. Ms. Charuvi’s semi-abstract paintings of ruined homes in Gaza are effective in being slow to register their exact content. Ms. Schindler’s installation of paint-stiffened flags and graffiti-style paintings feels at once hectoring and vague.

Fikret Atay’s video “Batman vs. Batman” is about a very specific conflict, though one that could not be described as dire. Mr. Atay introduces us to the mayor of his hometown, Batman, Turkey, who in 2009 was suing Warner Brothers over rights to the city’s name, which has been appropriated (according to the suit) by a certain American action hero. The mayor, an amused and amusing man, energetically presents his case for Mr. Atay’s consideration, then shrugs and basically says, “Hey, what do I have to lose?” — a nicely judged exit sentiment for a heavy-light show. HOLLAND COTTER

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