Comprised of color and black and white images taken over a fifteen-year span, a loosely knit motif of explicit and fabricated portraiture depicting both objects and people emerges through the ³hunting horns² of memory in the show¹s title, which comes by way of Apollinaire¹s poignant evocation of the ephemeral nature of remembrance.
In the photographs of mysterious wooden shapes and concrete bowls, utility and aesthetic appeal mix. Manual Pad, or thrashed Donald Judd sculpture? Scale is also uncertain are they the size of a matchbox, or a dump truck? These often improvised but meticulously built constructions are a perfect marriage of form and function. Skateable sculptures with nary a skater in sight, barren even, but replete with curves, angles, transitions and the scrapes and smears that signify repeated wheeled assault. The actual skateboarders who left evidence of their use appear elsewhere and out-of-focus, riding at the Palais de Tokyo and the infamous Brooklyn Banks. These depict the act but are not action shots by any means, instead showing an abstracted, indistinct trace of the physicality inherent in the activity. Continuing the exploration of mistrustful representation conjured via memory, the ³Influential Practitioners² series presents re-photographed headshots of well-known skateboarders from the pages of old magazines. Weathered and smudged, seen together they make up a rogue¹s gallery or a collection of distinguished pioneers, depending on the outlook. Further photographic remembrance unfolds in the exquisitely detailed soldier mannequins from the Musée de l’Armée. The same age as the skaters, but anonymous and two hundred years ³older,² their make-believe visages are uncannily lifelike, eliciting doubts concerning their place in the mismatched tapestry of fiction, fact and doubtful recall that forms our relationship to the past.
The details of the artwork on the covers of Die Kreuzen, Amebix, MDC and Necros (to name a few) LPs are from another era of reminiscence, one generation removed from the skaters, many from the soldiers. A paean to recollecting the shock of the new, they are fetishistic renderings of what were (and still are) sacred talismans, graphic innovation of the late 1970s and early 1980s as a cropped, isolated ³portrait ² twenty years later. Finally, the one color photograph of the unknown young woman on Di¹anmen Xidajie echoes and amplifies the myriad mistrustful recollections of the animate and inanimate heard like a hunting horn¹s sound, making for hallucinatory and allusive portraiture that alternates between the real and imagined, the remembered and forgotten.
Our story is noble and tragic
As the mask of a tyrant
No perilous magic drama
Not a single indifferent detail
Renders our love pathetic
And Thomas de Quincey drinking
Opium sweet chaste poison
To his poor Anne went dreaming
Let¹s pass on pass on since it all passes on
I will turn back often
Memories are hunting horns
Whose sound dies out along the wind
- Guillaume Apollinaire, 1913