Art in America, October 2005


By Sarah Valdez

That Kelly Kaczynski's impressive solo debut, "air is air and thing is thing," resembled a large heap of trash on first sight might have instantly tipped one off to the fact that she, like many of the past century' smost intriguing artists, draw inspiration from Marcel Duchamp's seemingly inexhaustible arsenal of iconoclastic ideas, not least of which was making intentionally unbeautiful art. In this large installation that comprises seven distinct sculptures, she used mostly building materials--various kins of wood, studs, pallets, conduit, laminate, roofing rubber, Sheetrock, insulation foam, and big orange bags full of sand--to create an optical playground. The whole was cordoned off by hot pink yart that viewers had to step over or under to enter the piece. (Actually it wasn't entirely clear if the string was there to keep people out, but nobody in teh gallery coplained when vieweres transgressed it.)

Unpon closer inspection, more than a few cunning visual puns revealed themselves. Little turd-like blobs of black insulation foam, for instance, perched on wood in one area, vaguely resembling small statuettes of Hindu deities; the piece is titled Over and Over, Little Gods. Kaczynski also juxtaposed faux-wood paneling with real wood two-by-fours in 4:00 AM--a possible nod to Duchamps affinity for pitting the real against the representation, the idea against the object. Crevice, a sculpture made of roofing rubber and two-by-fours bearing traces of pink fluorescent paint bore some resemblance to a large animal with a protruding tail.

Brancusi once famously remarked that a great work of art functions like a well-planned crime, and Kaczynski's fabulously orchestrated coup here had to do with a peehole in one of the pieces that looked out at the entire installation. The view revealed all the objects in the show carefully positioned to create a loose but recognizable configuration of Duchamp's Etant donnes, making absolute the Dada-ist's influence on the show--expect that Kaczynski's female is rendered entirely out of negative space. The artist's careful aping of Duchamp's work doesn't titilate but cleerly enforces awareness of his distasteful habit of presenting the female figure as symbolic void. Throughtout, Kaczynski demonstrates an affinity for and surefooted tweaking of subtle currents that have run through the last century's art, but she keeps it intelligent and grubby enough that it feels plenty alive right now.



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