Thursday, February 21, 2008

Harris Lieberman: “Ohad Meromi: Who Owns the World?”

A 2004 MFA Columbia School of the Arts graduate, Ohad Meromi is an Israeli artist who lives and works in New York City. His latest installation at the Harries Lieberman gallery consists of two videos, each about twenty minutes long, and a large spatial construction that takes up the main room in the gallery. The two videos are displayed very differently from each other. In the back room, The Exception and the Rule @ Schitopolis is projected onto a wall, with sound from the film surrounding the viewer and simultaneously playing in the main room of the gallery. On the opposite side of the gallery, right up a glass window, a small television with a pair of earphones sits low on the floor, looping The Exception of the Rule @ Trois Gaules.

Through this set up, the two videos spatially frame the construction in the main gallery, a large architectural sculpture that looks like a 1:1 model of a strange apartment. Through the construction, , Meromi sets the mood for the whole gallery, as viewers are immediately confronted with the empty wooden frames that divide the space. Walking into Who Owns the World feels a lot like walking onto the set of a theatrical production, with modernist looking props lying around the space: some costumes on hangers, two blue foam sculptures like decorative objects, some spools of yarn and a guitar decorated with orange yarn balls. Meromi uses bright red, green, yellow, blue, pink and orange stripes to decorate the wooden structure, creating a sense of playfulness that contrasts the minimalist design of the construction. The spatial organization of the structure is reminiscent of a house, with a common room, a bedroom, a closet and a workroom.

So what are we doing, divided between two videos and an installation that looks like a theatrical set? In this exhibition, Meromi explores both the medium of video and that of interactive sculpture, but apart from some shared aesthetic choices in both videos and construction, the three projects do not work with each other to create a coherent show. In an interview, Mermoni explains his choice for both video and installation as a way to contrast the “institutional nature” of installation with the way video plays with narrative and time. By showcasing both the installation and the videos, Meromi exhibits a a wide range of interests and influences: from modern dance and the Fluxus movement, to Classic Greek Drama revivals and modern colonial Israeli history. Yet while his work brings together all these elements in a new combination, the exhibition itself feels too much like a mixture of influences and not enough like the World of its title.

Harris Lieberman
February 16- March 15, 2008

No comments: