Art of the Day: Governors Island art (Sep 2011) Part 2 of 2 — Joel Bacon and Yeon Jin Kim

  September 26th, 2011


       Joel Bacon
       fugue, 2009, graphite on paper


       Yeon Jin Kim
        excerpt from Zoonomia, 2010 (?)

     As promised, part two my survey of the Governors Island art bits I came across in September. As readers of Art of the Day know, I never review stuff I don’t love (I’m a negative enough old cudgel as it is). So while I came across a lot of noteworthy art things while wandering on Gov’s Island this past labor day weekend, I’m only covering the stuff that I loved most.
     First up tonight’s a work by Joel Bacon that wasn’t something I saw at Governors Island, a piece called “fugue”. So why did I choose it? Well, a) I like it, but the primary reason’s b) — the two pieces of his I did see and love were ungoogleable: “Barbell Diptych” and “Hedgerow”. And that’s a shame because one of the pieces, the former, was strong as hell, and tied for first in my Gov. Island favorites list (co-winner being the next artist I’ll cover). “Barbell Diptych” comprises two tall oblong canvases side by side, each depicting some kind of tall barbell-shaped mass of reddish, wormy viscera. They hovered there, sentient, full of pulsing alien presence. It felt like they could talk to each other and to you in some weird telepathic whisper. Alternately, they seemed just masses of dead, sculpted meat. A lot of the piece’s power for me resulted precisely from this duality: alive & aware extraterrestrial presence vs. sheer impact of two masses of gutty blorp.
     Yeon Jin Kim’s “4 Zoonomia” was my other favorite piece of art I saw on Governors Island over Labor day. It’s a beautifully strange, unnerving piece of video art where the mouse-eye view camera tentatively enters & navigates a heavily textured dreamscape of plant props, leaves & dried coral. Humanoid forms detach from the vegetal background unexpectedly and move in cute halting shamble, eerie sound-fx of their echoey footsteps provided. All the while the camera takes you deeper, pausing and lurching, creating suspense as to what presence will manifest next, leaves and shadows wriggling and shaking. A blue door opens, a feasting giant bug lumbers by, prey in its mandibles.
     Just as interesting was Kim’s “All Intellectual Animals are Dangerous” (not shown here). The best way to describe this video is just to provide improvised running commentary: Gray and white bricks. Ominous backwards-speech sounds. Camera slowly crawls along them. Roots jostle out of holes made in the brick. A window shows a mass of bright red blood encircling a curious dog sitting calmly in the kitchen. Paper cut-out elk stare at you while their heads fall off. The camera keeps crawling up the brickwall, presents us with a goat chewing off the skin of its companion, green ichor spilled, chewing and chewing in the checkered tile chamber. Camera pans, roots everywhere, broken bricks, hole opens into chamber: tall lithe giantess is there, sad and hugging her knees, Alice after the grow potion, filing up the room. Brick wall again, dog looking out at bluecloudy apocalypse storm space, now a dead shark on droughtland. A window glows now soft echinachea rose, the blueshutter opens. Alligator grins at the exposed foot in the bathtub.

More of Bacon’s art at

More of Yeon Jin Kim’s gorgeous videos over at what I believe to be her youtube channel, here.


[posted by C Way at 11:22 PM]


[file under: ART OF THE DAY ||| paintings/drawings ||| video/film ]

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