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

Dancing by Myself: Jenny Ping at Klaus von Nichtssagend

Jenny Ping, "Milky Sky Ballet Festival", 2006
Jenny Ping, Milky Sky Ballet Festival, 2006, pencil, color pencil, marker,
white china marker on grey green tinted paper, 17 x 35 inches.
Courtesy of Klaus von Nichtssagend
On The Stage
Jenny Ping
Klaus von Nichtssagend Gallery - 438 Union Avenue Brooklyn, NY
21 September - 28 October, 2007

The Klaus von Nichtssagend Gallery is a true artists' gallery, upholding the fervent sensibilities of the practitioner-proprietors whose love for art and their fellow artist colleagues begets some brilliant exhibitions. The "nicht" in the Nichtssagent literally means "nothing." The owners, RISD grads fed up with the stale state of affairs in the art world, wanted to see artists up that they simply weren’t seeing. In the spirit of artistic progress and creative ingenuity, they joined forces and started their own exhibition space that they aptly dubbed with the most pretentious sounding name they could imagine, equally offset by its own ridiculous non-meaning. The only rule at the space is a refusal to show their own work in order to mitigate the already painful tendencies of the art world's blatant self-indulgence. The name of the space was their clever antidote to the dilemma of artists showing artists. Call it a wink at the art historical -isms and self-reflexive considerations all their favorite German authors and professors taught them (I miss you, Buchloh!). The three founders and co-directors, Sam Wilson, Rob Hult and Indgrid Bromberg Kennedy, call it a "labor of love." Located just off the Lorimer stop in Williamsburg, the Klaus Gallery sits conveniently next to Dumont where the strategic placement guarantees pre-brunch art viewing.

Jenny Ping's new work, currently hanging in Klaus, depicts a theatrical revelry of dance moves, bright costumes, and skin-hugging tights for an imaginary turn of the century ballet performed by dinosaurs — an homage to the legendary Serge Diaghilev's Ballets Russes, the art-savvy Russian impresario who brought the best of St. Petersburg’s youthful, hot studs to Paris in his operas and ballets. Clad in remarkable costumes rendered with impeccable artistic direction, Diaghilev's creations were a success not unlike Ping's motley cast of creatures. Ping doesn't omit a single detail in her deft execution of each pretty ballerina with an elaborately designed costume. The dinosaurs fly through the air, contorting their graceful limbs in front of a decorated stage, replete with mountain backdrops and scenic backgrounds. Her dancers are actually "Dansaurs," happy little creatures who celebrate life. If only we could hear the orchestral sounds the send these cute guys into flight.

Ping at once demonstrates the craft of a costume designer, art director, choreographer, and conductor in her work. She imparts her skill as a craftsman on her art, creating drawings, paintings and collages to reflect her vision and engage her technical virtuosity. For such a multifarious process, she clearly has her hands full. In Four Braider Dansaurs, the artist's cast of characters wear stunningly decorated costumes that overlap in their pose, flattened over the entirety of the canvas with a subtle hinting at the illusion of space — reminding us that we’re looking at a stage, after all. The point, however, is to not reflect on spatial relations through movement, but rather to focus on the movement itself — not to mention reflecting on the silly antics of these creatures who dance their night away in ornate costume that only the luckiest of prom queens might ever hope for.

The Klaus von Nichtssagend space never ceases to entertain, this show included. Jenny Ping's work is a perfect match for a gallery founded on the only principles that matter: art we want to see but simply don't anywhere else.