This Week in New York Insider's Guide to Arts & Culture in New York City Since 2001



Jon Kessler goes blue at Salon 94 Bowery (photo by twi-ny/mdr)

Salon 94 Bowery
243 Bowery between Stanton & Rivington Sts.
Through Saturday, March 10
the blue period slideshow

Yonkers-born multimedia artist Jon Kessler, whose “Seven” collaboration with Mika Rottenberg was one of the standouts of the recent Performa 11 festival, uses cameras and moving parts to create installations filled with unusual perspectives. In “The Blue Period,” which is making its U.S. debut at Salon 94 Bowery through March 10, the New York City–based artist and Columbia professor invites viewers to be more than just spectators as they make their way through the immersive environment, which features two-sided life-size cardboard cutouts of men and women scattered about various cameras, framed collages, and a swirling collection of small moving heads. The color blue abounds, as blue paint has been splattered on the white walls, one side of most of the cardboard figures has been splashed with blue paint, and film and video clips show scenes in which characters are painted blue, including excerpts from Mel Gibson’s Braveheart, Jean-Luc Godard’s Pierrot le Fou, Shawn Levy’s Big Fat Liar (an all-blue Paul Giamatti), and Blue Man Group. Those clips alternate with live shots of the room, shown on several flat screens placed throughout the display as well as on a Nam June Paik–like bank of monitors at the front. As you walk around the exhibit, you’ll get the feeling you’re being watched, and you are — either by the rotating cameras, which project your image onto the screens and monitors, by the cardboard cutouts, or by other visitors. There’s no escaping the constant surveillance, either down here at Salon 94 Bowery or, of course, out on the streets of the city. Kessler was inspired by Guy Debord’s 1967 tome The Society of the Spectacle, which offers up such philosophical statements as “Images detached from every aspect of life merge into a common stream, and the former unity of life is lost forever” and “The spectacle is not a collection of images; rather, it is a social relationship between people that is mediated by images.” In “The Blue Period,” Kessler has created an involving, humorous world of moving images that grows just a little more frightening as you realize how pervasive and unreal it all really is. You might be able to get out, but those smiling cardboard cutouts are trapped for the duration.

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