Time is on the mind in the inaugural group show at GEMS, a new space on Canal Street in Chinatown. In the window—as if the former Diamond Desire Jewelry Inc., the store occupying this space, which closed recently, was still in business—are a pair of objects by Gedi Sibony, including a mirrored clock, and SpaceTime (2021), a “Found SWATCH wall clock” with primary-colored hands placed on the existing red velvet matting of the defunct jewelry store.
“TACET,” the title of the exhibition, a word that has fittingly become less and less popular the longer that time goes on, means “silent”; it describes, for instance, the temporal musical direction to silence an instrument. See, for instance, Steve Bishop’s Agency (2021), in which a landline phone plays tinny hold music by Miles Davis. “The line went silent,” Bishop writes in a corresponding pamphlet—its own kind of tacet. So too could Bishop’s “Subscribers” series, in which PVC slices of cake are arrayed atop vintage journals, be interpreted as a kind of modern day memento mori.
It remains to be seen what kind of space GEMS will be, and what iterations of exhibitions will follow. The interior intentionally retains much of its former life—surveillance cameras, patches of glittering wallpaper, cracks in the tiles—and the line between homage and fetishization, now common in Chinatown galleries, may be tripped. Time will tell whether it'll contribute to the clangor of the ever-expanding neighborhood gallery scene, or perhaps give room for the much-needed, meditative, and nurturing sort of silence.
Steve Bishop, Subscribers (’86 – ’88), 2021, Journals, PVC model cake, polystyrene plate, 4 x 11 1/8 x 8 5/8 inches. Courtesy GEMS New York.