Just as Fashion Week wrapped up in Paris, Queer Thoughts in Pilsen opened a new exhibition of collaborative works by Sebastian Black and India Donaldson that simulates the culture of simulated (read: knockoff) fashion and luxury goods. More specifically, Black explains in the press release that they are interested in objects produced in the authentic factory, but outside of official working hours, which are then smuggled into the world. What might have been a heavily burdened ontological premise plays lightly in a blushingly sweet, sparsely hung installation of clothing-like sculpture, a video and a work on paper. Like the artist Sturtevant has done with her conceptual forgeries of modern and contemporary art, Black and Donaldson’s works slink right up to the difference between original and copy, showing off that distinction is more a matter of the mind than any hard ruling.
The rose petal-hued silk organza, titled “Authentix Parka,” is hung on a wooden hanger from a shiny metal rod. It is similar to a parka except that the sleeves protrude from the chest rather than the sides of the garment. Appropriate dress for a Cubist-rendered figure, this easygoing straitjacket comes to life in the whimsical gouache drawing “Monkey Business Best Practices” wherein the jacket is anthropomorphized with furtive eyes floating above it, as it is pursued by what appear to be cartoon illustrations of the two artists themselves. While the tone here is comical, the nearby video “Suadade,” in which another translucent top flutters in the wind, is wistful: Both pieces convey the longing pursuit of apprehending a thing just as it slips into some other philosophical category.
This exhibition is half of a friendly transaction: Luis Miguel Bendaña and Sam Lipp who operate Queer Thoughts will exhibit at Black and Donaldson’s Brooklyn gallery Malraux’s Place later this year. Blending business with pleasure, art with fashion (and being fashionable), and the smoke-and-mirrors used in the pursuit of upward mobility commonly lace Queer Thoughts’ programming. The transformation of the exhibition space back into a walk-in closet in this apartment gallery glows with elegant wit that toys with how the space itself is a studied imitation. (Matt Morris)
Through April 1 at Queer Thoughts, 1640 West 18th, #3.