THE DAILY PIC (#1689): On Saturday, I finally got a chance to see “Mark Leckey: Containers and Their Drivers,” the
British artist’s ambitious retrospective at MoMA PS1 in New York. As I
was walking out, my phone buzzed and what should appear but an email
blast with the review of that very show by my dear pal and talented Artnet colleague Christian Viveros-Fauné.
gifted but ultimately trivial sculptor, filmmaker, poster-maker,
installation-designer, lecturer, musician and general
jack-of-all-0-and-1-art-trades,” is how he summed up Leckey, diagnosing
him as subject to “a Zac Efron-like fugue state where adolescent adult
pursuits are given full wing to ignore their spectacularly co-opted and
globally fetishized condition.” Presenting a “desultory accretion” of
more-or-less-meaningful objects, Leckey, for Christian, arrives at a
revelation that is “as simple as it is uncritical: in our era of data
glut, everything is everything is everything.”
Christian is absolutely right in his account, and I left the exhibition with the same hollowed-out feeling that he clearly did.
thing is, to me that seemed a sign of the work’s excellence. My
inability to parse meaning out of Leckey’s objects left me feeling like
an anthropologist air-dropped into the middle of a foreign culture that
feels internally coherent but utterly indecipherable – with the added
existential wrinkle that in this case, it’s my own culture that I’ve
This, I think, is the state that the Internet has left
all of us in, now that it has achieved utter ubiquity. We are each of us
faced with the totality of our globalized culture, as we never were
before, and the fact that, pulled out of the little corner that we used
to understand, we can only end up adrift in a sea of drifting meanings
that exceed anyone’s ability to process them.
As I wandered,
dazed, through Leckey’s difficult and important show, I was left
wondering if this might not be the real root of Trumpism: Not a true and
specific hatred or fear of Islam or queers or male-peeing women, but a
much more generic horror provoked by all the cultural foreignness that
impinges on every one of us, even when we imagine that we are all
snuggled up in our own little cultural homeland. Even far-off ISIS, with
its terrors and depredations, may be the product of that same horror.
says that Leckey’s resistance to meaning “is not just silly but
culturally dangerous. Images influence people, objects are different,
things mean something, and judgment is important—now more than ever.”
That couldn’t be more true. But Leckey’s troubling show made me wonder
whether judgment can be arrived at when there’s infinite evidence to
take into account.
Today’s Daily Pic shows one of the exhibition’s
several avatars of Felix the Cat, whom Christian describes as “a
species of cool stand-in for the artist.” But I can’t help notice the
flaccid helplessness that this overblown cool-cat is suffering from. (Photograph by Pablo Enriquez, courtesy the artist and MoMA PS1)
Zac Efron did to the real Simone Biles what she had done so many times to a cardboard cutout of him. Efron kissed the gold-medal gymnast and she more or less smiled her face off. Watch the cute moment from start to finish.