Darren Bader

“as=poaching the poachers”

“as=poaching the poachers” Photograph courtesy Rivington Arms

Time Out Ratings :

<strong>Rating: </strong>4/5

Darren Bader’s expansive show—obliquely titled “as=poaching the poachers”—asks a lot of its viewers. The good news is that time spent is rewarded, though some viewers may lose patience before cracking Bader’s code.

The front room of Rivington Arms is peppered with ephemeral works, the most evocative of which is called as sculpture and involves several buttons floating atop an open container of tahini and two fabric-wrapped DVDs of The Crucible starring Winona Ryder. Poaching from sources as various as Arte Povera, Daniel Spoerri and Mike Kelly, Bader piles up so many references that references cease to matter; a funny and icky assemblage, the work is what it is.

In the back room looms Prototype 3, a visually engaging installation structured around Steven Spielberg’s blockbuster War of the Worlds and Bela Tarr’s art-house film Damnation, which screen alternately on a single monitor. Each film is represented by a timeline painted on the walls. Found and constructed sculptural and photographic works arranged in the space refer, often obtusely, to details they convey.

What begins as a map of Bader’s own thought process ends up as a viewer-specific game of free association: At one point, I linked a striated heirloom tomato and a pair of nail clippers strewn on the floor to a creepy found image of a hand painted to look like a zebra. Overall, Bader’s conceptual high jinks transcend didacticism—and also hermeticism—to give viewers a show worth puzzling over. — Amoreen Armetta

Rivington Arms , through Apr 7