No Place Like Home
Terror can arrive on our doorstep without warning, it can appear in the kitchen while innocently making a cup of lemon tea. Greene Naftali’s summer group show, “No Place Like Home,” goes down like the film When a Stranger Calls (1979) or that demonic tipple, dosed with honey. It’s warming at first but quickly cools only to leave a sticky ring. The first swing around the exhibition feels pleasantly familiar. We are greeted by Lutz Bacher’s Snow (1999). Playing on a small television, this silent video work captures a snowstorm in progress. We watch the flakes swirl around the World Trade Towers from a Jimmy Cricket hearth of a Village apartment. A cat, perhaps the artist’s, interrupts the program, bringing us back into our hot bodies and out of the hypnotizing vortex that seems to forecast the future doom.
The defrosting continues with a wall of sunny still-lives, in a grid formation, by Candy Jernigan from the 1990s—vases and bowls are no longer supporting characters, they're the main attraction. Unlike Morandi’s tabletop tableaux, these works on paper don’t heroize the everyday, rather they give room to breathe and light to see. Collectively, the 59 works meet the banal and do not apply pressure; There is however, a cloying paranoia lurking in Jernigan’s repetition, that is drawn out by Julie Becker’s contributions—who is arguably the show’s lodestar.
Three works from Becker’s photographic series, The Same Room (1993/96), sends the itch of delusion down the spine like a purr. These photographic prints depict the same small claustrophobic but paradoxically empty room, over and over, remade with different interior treatments. Some of the images are recreations of real spaces, while others are fictional. They reek of Hollywood movie stage magic—albeit all are dollhouse-sized—of their lower-budget adult entertainment peers. Becker depicts a world that is glamorous, hollow and ultimately uninhabitable. Jerry Saltz once wrote that Becker’s series (The Same Room) looked like “homes of people who got busted by the cops.” But here—in the context of Bacher’s Snow, and Lucy Gunning’s floor-avoidant video performance cum little red dress fashion moment, Climbing Around My Room (1993)—it's clear tragedy at home is more of a slow moving sensation. It is rarely the kind that knocks down doors, guns blazing. In fact, it’s hard to tell if we invited this apprehension in, or if it was there keeping us company all along. —Kat Herriman
Lucy Gunning, Climbing Around My Room, 1993. Video, 7:30 minutes.