Lora Reynolds Gallery
Mads Lynnerup; I Love NY More Than You Do, 2007; silkscreen on T-shirt including a photographic archival pigment print; S, M, L and XL (T-shirt) and 8 x 10 inches (photograph); edition of 50 + 15 AP
Although Mads Lynnerup’s work is often discussed in terms of social sculpture and relational aesthetics, the way he works has much more to do with personal reactions to overlooked aspects of the environments he inhabits. Through videos, sculpture and interactive and/or confrontational street performances, Lynnerup has a way of processing an environment—of teasing out the subtleties of a specific setting—creating work that both encapsulates and satirizes localized natural and cultural phenomena.
If You See Anything Interesting Please Let Someone Know Immediately, Lora Reynolds’ presentation of a smattering of Lynnerup’s recent work, feels like a mini retrospective. But thanks to the wide mixture of work on display—videos, drawings and site-specific installations—it is obvious that the artist’s recent relocation from the Bay Area to New York City has greatly affected his work, both physically and psychologically, as evidenced in the opposing tonal qualities and subject matter at hand. His Bay Area pieces have an innocence and playfulness about them, and maintain a sort of collective ethos. In contrast, more recent works created in New York have an overtly sarcastic and direct tone that seems reactionary, as if the result of the constant sensory bombardment one experiences not just in any urban environment but specifically in New York City.
For example, in Chasing a Bus, set in San Francisco’s Mission District, Lynnerup boards and rides a public bus one block at a time, getting off at each stop only to run after the bus the moment it pulls away. As this ridiculous action is repeated over and over again, your focus shifts from watching the artist to reading the expressions of people riding the actual bus. In this way, Lynnerup straddles a line between creating a public performance and making a documentary, because in the end, the video captures a slice of the inherent absurdity of life in the Mission District.
In contrast, Lynnerup’s site-specific installation Gallery Counter plays upon the experience of visiting a stereotypical Chelsea gallery in New York and the dysfunction of a certain gallery fixture. Those who visit such venues with any regularity have learned to simply take this phenomenon in stride: the “gallerina,” most often a very young, very attractive woman who can barely deign to answer a simple question. In Mads’ reproduction, his gallerina is simply a well-coiffed wig on a broomstick.
Lynnerup obviously possesses the uncanny ability to distill cultural phenomena and poke at it just enough to make it unravel. If You See Anything Interesting Please Let Someone Know Immediately, the piece that shares the title of the exhibition, is a direct reference to flyers posted all over New York since 9/11 (“If you see something suspicious please let someone know immediately.”). Lynnerup spins the original phrase on its head, directing it at the art world by creating posters he then wheatpasted all over Europe last summer during Art|Basel, Documenta and the Venice Biennnale. Again, while environment is key, the tone it draws from the artist is critical to the success of the work. And when these works succeed, they force us to revisit the systems we inhabit and engage in, essentially putting the trivialities of our daily lives in the limelight—and in question.
Rachel Cook is an artist and freelance writer based in Austin.