I wish everyone visiting Gary Indiana’s show could have the artist for a tour guide, as I did recently. Best known as a novelist and an art critic with flamboyant opinions, Indiana breathlessly delivered diaristic details about the works, which span three decades. But even in his absence, each of these pictures tells a story, albeit one that emerges from your own imagination.
Often arranged in groups of four, Indiana’s images, taken with a variety of cameras in a range of styles, prompt viewers to weave otherwise disparate fragments into a coherent whole. One untitled set, for example, includes a blurry shot of a TV screen showing actress Rita Tushingham in A Taste of Honey, a group of orange penguins at the Edinburgh Zoo, a snapshot of a gallery in L.A.’s Chinatown, and a view from the window of a speeding train. There is no obvious connection between these scenes, but somehow they go together magically, whatever secrets they may keep.
Indiana, who had his last New York show at American Fine Arts in 2002, isn’t exactly playing coy: The monumental image of his Cuban lover, Abdul, standing naked in a shower with his penis on display is pretty hard to ignore. But Indiana is in love with stream of consciousness, as evidenced in his 2005 video, Plutot la Vie, which strings together classic film footage, from Triumph of the Will to Blonde Venus. His thrill at sorting through the material is palpable, but as with a stranger’s photo album found in a flea market, we are obliged to provide a backstory.—Barbara Pollack