Arthur Jafa’s “BLACK POWER TOOL AND DIE TRYNIG”
              Travis Diehl
              With the subtlety of a revolver, Arthur Jafa’s merciless ***** distilled the racial psychopathy of Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver (1976) by replacing the white characters in its climactic bloodbath with Black ones. Robert De Niro and Jodie Foster still play Vietnam vet Travis Bickle and the pubescent sex worker he thinks he’s saving but—by recording new performances and stitching them into the original footage—Jafa transformed the white pimp Sport into the Black Scar, the bouncer and the john were made Black, and so too the horrified cops who edge in after Bickle has emptied his guns. This wasn’t so much a subversion as a restoration: the script had called for a Black body count, but was recast to avoid inflaming audiences. Critics of Jafa’s redux—recently screened at Gladstone Gallery—have complained that Taxi Driver was already about race. But Jafa’s grim snuff film takes that fact to be obvious, then warps it, repeating his revised climax with small differences and new surprises, for seventy-three minutes. Jafa’s show of sculptures at 52 Walker carries the same themes of Blackness, erasure, violence, and moving images, but in a more damning, paranoid register. A walkthrough structure, studded with extruded aluminum sculptures like bisected window …
              Gordon Matta-Clark and Pope.L’s “Impossible Failures”
              Katherine C. M. Adams
              Gordon Matta-Clark’s film Bingo X Ninths (1974), which features a precise dismantling of all but the core of an abandoned house, has been projected at large scale along the first wall of 52 Walker. The door to the exhibition space intersects the projection, such that gallery visitors irrupt onto the image as they enter and exit. A perfectly circular hole, cut straight through the same gallery wall, also interferes with the clean transmission of the film. A layer of dust from this incision lines the gallery floor. It’s tempting to view such strategies as a literal self-reflexivity built into the gallery design: Matta-Clark’s canonical building cuts overflowing onto the gallery’s walls, making their mark on the present architectural space. Yet the pairing of Matta-Clark and Pope.L for “Impossible Failures” performs a different function, complicating Matta-Clark’s practice on a more fundamental plane. Here, Matta-Clark appears to work vertically, in the air, through various forms of physical suspension, while Pope.L works laterally, low-to-the-ground, worm-like. Drawings by Matta-Clark with subjects such as High Rise Excavation Diving Tower (1974) show lofty engineering schemes that seem to resist the pull of gravity. The artist’s three exhibited films all emphasize, to varying degrees, aerial vantage points …
              Nikita Gale’s “END OF SUBJECT”
              Adam Kleinman
              What are the uses, and abuses, of abstraction? Five years on from the controversy sparked by the inclusion of Dana Schutz’s Open Casket (2016) in the 2017 Whitney Biennial, the quandaries of representation continue to preoccupy institutional programs. Brilliant figurative portraiture of and by traditionally silenced voices has become dominant—at the price, perhaps, of de-platforming artwork in which personal identity is less then immediately recognizable. Said more crudely: visibility is in, while opacity is out. But at what, or whose, cost? Plausibly as a consequence of, and response to, the kind of over-visibility through which people are surveilled by corporations and states, several artists who deploy strategies of interference are now, perhaps paradoxically, achieving prominence. Nikita Gale—a nom de plume (or is it nom de guerre?) created by redacting Gale’s inherited “legal” surname—is one such artist. In Gale’s work, abstraction is more than a device to generate imagery, and becomes a mode of creative reflection and deflection. Upon entering the artist’s current exhibition at 52 Walker, the David Zwirner TriBeCa outpost that opened in October 2021, expectations are immediately interrupted. Within the cavernous hall, a series of crushed and deformed aluminum bleachers frame the overall sense of arriving too …

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