“Schema: World as Diagram”
              Paul Stephens
              This exhibition of diagrammatic works juggles some of the most contested categories in contemporary art—and manages to keep all its curatorial balls in the air. Despite the broad sweep of its title, the show is tightly curated and requires multiple viewings for its full scope to set in. With an emphasis on painting, this meticulous grouping of fifty-plus artists undermines simplistic, outmoded art-historical binaries that oppose figuration and abstraction, conceptualism and expressionism, scientism and humanism. To call it expansive feels like an understatement. The show takes its title from Thomas Hirschhorn’s Schema: Art and Public Space (2016–22), an exuberant multimedia collage-manifesto. Rudimentary and improvisational, Hirschhorn’s patchwork of ideas and contexts places the works in the show under a utopian-communitarian umbrella—exemplifying David Joselit’s claim in his 2005 essay “Dada’s Diagrams” that “the diagram constitutes an embodied utopianism.” Hirschhorn’s Schema might usefully be juxtaposed with Dan Graham’s 1966 work of the same name—sometimes taken to represent the apex of early informatic anti-figural conceptualism. (A show devoted to Graham’s Schema at 3A Gallery closed, coincidentally, several weeks before this exhibition opened.) Graham intended his work to be “completely self-referential” and meant to define “itself in place only as information.” Simply a text without …
              Survival Research Laboratories’ “Inconsiderate fantasies of negative acceleration characterized by sacrifices of a non-consensual nature”
              Rob Goyanes
              A modernist critical framework would have you believe that the difference between a machine and sculpture is the same as between politics and aesthetics: a machine uses power to fulfill a function, while a sculpture is all about form and taste. Knowing that this is bullshit—that there is no apolitical aesthetic—our contemporary lives are defined by the somewhat analogous understanding that the difference between war and terrorism is the same as between art and non-art: purely a question of legitimacy. Started in 1978 in San Francisco by Mark Pauline, Survival Research Laboratories is a collective of technicians who build freakish militaristic machines. They’re then employed in spectacular public productions that are part hilarious war zone, part robot drama, consisting of modified jet engines that shoot hurricanes of fire; remote-controlled six-legged crawlers that skitter and stab; and spark shooters and shockwave canons and wheelocopters that provoke a sort of childish, anarchic delight. However, there’s a political rigor to these radical machines. Revered in the social circles of punk, noise, outsider junk art and other so-called “extreme” American subcultures, SRL’s VHS tapes documented these chaotic public events, which often ended in pissed off cops and fire departments even though proper permits were (usually) always …

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