There are only three more viewing days (Wednesday and Friday 2–7 p.m., Saturday 7–10 p.m.) for COSMS, Dashboard Co-Op’s remarkable site-specific installations on the second floor of Midtown Plaza.
This is unfortunate, because COSMS is a transformation of a vacant office-tower space that, for us old-timers, brings back memories of such ambitious artist-organized events as the Thursday Night Artists’ exhibition on the 50th floor of Philip Johnson’s One Atlantic Center — only more installation-oriented and with a greater percentage of new media. (Full disclosure: I was one of the co-organizers of that long-ago show.)
COSMS consists of an extraordinary variety of slightly mind-bending work by the dozen artists Dashboard has chosen for this year’s series of exhibitions. (Dashboard Co-Op defines itself as “an experimental curatorial project” in which 10 to 12 artists are selected to produce “a body of work that challenges their conceptual practice” for the year’s inaugural exhibition, followed by thematic shows.)
Kevin Byrd’s experiments with colored light and Jason Peters’ relatively minimal space alteration with Dan Flavin–like fluorescent tubing are among the large-scale immersive pieces here. Add to the list Dave Greber’s trippy image projections, Chris Chambers’ replication of an earthquake-tilted bathroom (homage to building-splicer Gordon Matta-Clark?) and Dustin Chambers’ claustrophobic, almost lightless labyrinth devoted to light boxes and sound recordings of elderly Alzheimer’s victims.
Somewhere in between are Elizabeth Riley’s stack art and the blends of video and wall images by Paper Frank, George Long, and (in an utterly different key) Andre Keichian. Martha Whittington has bedecked metal beds with dream-recounting pillows stitched with Freud’s categorizations. Lindsey Wolkowicz has updated a Kurt Schwitters Merzbau with the piece hidden behind the wall on which a video is projected that shows the space and the performance that took place in it. Haunting moss is all that remains after Zopi Kristjanson’s opening night performance.
This breathless survey should make the reader happy that the installations are excellently documented on Dashboard Co-Op’s website, where some of their virtues can be experienced. But the pieces are not only too complicated to discern from a photograph, they’re too complex to evaluate adequately in a brief viewing. (They also put your head in a different place, as ’60s survivors would once have phrased it.) Their strengths and weaknesses (more strengths than weaknesses) deserve more attention than chronically over-committed viewers may be able to give them. Maybe the few with world enough and time will be able to make up for the rest of us.
Artists’ talks by Martha Whittington, Chris Chambers, and Jason Peters will take place on Wednesday at 6 p.m., and the Saturday viewing hours are a closing event with music by Del Venicci.