leila-heller

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The Revolutionary, No-Bullshit Art of ganzeer

“In Egypt, no one would buy a drama where the cop was a hero,” Ganzeer told me. “The story people buy is one where an unjust cop does evil things to the protagonist.”

Ganzeer is the pseudonym of a 32-year-old Egyptian artist who became famous during therevolution. He’s also a friend with whom I like to drink. Earlier this month, few days after his first US solo show opened at New York’s Leila Heller Gallery, we sat in the cement cave in the back of Interferance Archive that serves as his studio and talked.

He conceived of the concept for his show, titled All American, only a few months after his May 2014 move from Cairo to New York. NYPD officer Daniel Pantaleo had just choked Eric Garner to death. Anti-police protests were blossoming across America. Murder by cop became an inescapable subject, and one he wanted to confront on its home turf.

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a week after visiting rachel lee hovnanian’s cereal cafe, i stopped by her show at chelsea’s leila heller gallery, which has garnered a bit of hype because of her “perfect baby showroom.” set up like a hospital nursery, with babies in each bed, the showroom riffs on genetic modification, high expectations, and the overall influence of technology. hovnanian has created babies with particular character traits and predetermined (outrageously ambitious) futures. gallery-goers are encouraged to hold the babies, which feel shockingly real to the touch and have a weight distribution very similar to that of a real child.

between the cereal cafe and “plastic perfect,” i’ve fallen in love with hovnanian’s work and worldview. technology influences every part of contemporary life, and instead of fighting it, hovnanian mocks us a little and highlights the general absurdities of what we’ve now come to see as normal (liiike texting while in bed with a partner, which hovnanian’s chelsea show addresses, and which an unsettling number of people find no problem with).