This is an archive of the ArtCat Zine, 2007-2009. Please visit our new project, IDIOM.

A Muzzle of Bees at 33 Bond

Lisha Bai, "Column" installation view, 2007
Lisha Bai, "Column" installation view, 2007

A Muzzle of Bees
Curated by Tom Brauer
33 Bond - 33 Bond St, New York NY
6 September - 13 October 2007

The press release of A Muzzle of Bees, a group show curated by artist Tom Brauer currently on view at 33 Bond, promises to offer strategies to “fight loneliness, isolation, and seclusion” — all topics related to the titular Wilco song and the 2004 album on which it was released. Some artists in the show do this better than others, but all seem to take an introspective approach, seeking out answers to the aforementioned loneliness from the insides of their studios, within the comfortable perimeters of studio practice. Lisha Bai, for instance, turns to art history and industrial processes with her clever sculptural installations, one a clear acrylic rectangular box filled with layers of dyed sand, the other a checkered floor mat. The latter piece in particular is a success, at once employing a sort of easy Bridget Riley reference while subverting the preciousness of the historical work by the fact of its material composition: linoleum — an inexpensive material commonly found lining the floors of pre-50s offices and kitchens, and sometimes entire lower-income apartments. Installing this it on the floor of the gallery itself, Bai invites viewers to step all over the work.

Karla Wozniak’s work depicts a dull Fulton Street mall billboard painted in an expressive style that does more to transcend the advertisement’s shallow promises of mobility and freedom of (tele)communication than its own dated design. Nathan Redwood’s painting meanwhile shows a surreal, desert landscape in skewed perspective and molten gold seering from the ground. Tom Brauer’s mixed-media drawing depicts a blue map that is more fantasy than reality, its medley of seemingly found materials rising off the carefully worked and composed ground.

Lee Roberts, Bugaboo Chameleon, 2007
Lee Roberts, "Bugaboo Chameleon" installation view, 2007
Two of the strongest pieces in the show come from Eliza Newman-Saul and Lee Roberts, whose work couldn’t be more different. Newman-Saul’s witty drawing adorns the show’s card, but her work is nowhere to be found in the gallery. The black ink writing across the found slide shows the artist’s seemingly jaded impositions over the banal travel pictures. That the work only exists as a free multiple, intended to disperse and disappear as the exhibition closes, in relation to the crafty paintings and sculptures on display, seems to be a comment on the efficacy of studio practice to do those things which the press release purports — here the artist's interest lies in visibility and distribution over creating rarefied cultural objects. Lee Roberts on the other hand painstakingly crafts his own rarefied cultural object: the Bugaboo Chameleon stroller, prized in the neighborhoods of the wealthy the city over. Roberts models and casts the miniature strollers in plastic resin before painting them, reconstructing an existing cultural form without modification, save for the removal of its functional value, of course — the strollers being too small to carry a child. The elegant gesture here underscores the exchange value of the Bugaboo brand while negating everything else, becoming an essential critique through quotation.