Curated by gallery artist Ivan Navarro, “Junkies’ Promises” sprawls through both Kasmin spaces, with an eclectic array of pieces in various mediums by an international mix of artists, all referring to, or using, light. Navarro found his inspiration in William S. Burroughs’s semiautobiographical novel, Junky, and his selection aims to evoke parallels between the provisional survival strategies of the book’s wily protagonist and the way the artists here use everyday items to create their work.
Deborah Kass’s After Louise Bourgeois depicts a quote by the feminist artist—a woman has no place in the in the art world unless she proves over and over again that she won’t be eliminated—in a neon spiral that recalls Bruce Nauman’s famed The True Artist Helps the World by Revealing Mystic Truths (Window or Wall Sign), from 1967. Opposite Kass, Alfredo Jaar mounts another neon piece that reads, teach us to outgrow our madness, a reference to Kenzaburo Oe’s tale about a father and his mentally disabled son. Nearby, R.M. Fischer presents a whimsical floor sculpture made of discombobulated globe lights.
Homemade chandeliers, hanging at different levels, dominate the room containing Dzine’s Around the Way Girl, which channels simulated luxury through crystal fobs, mirrored shards and gold-painted chains. Resembling an aristocratic treasure, Alejandra Prieto’s chandelier of polished coal comments on the condition of miners in her native Chile, while Arnaldo Morales lets sparks fly with his dangling electrical generator. All in all, the promises of the exhibition title lie in the works themselves, and in their evocation of light as a transformational power—aesthetically and socially.—Paul Laster