rooklyn Rail publisher, artist, and curator Phong Bui’s curatorial energy is boundless. Here he riffed on the 1947 Frederick Kiesler–designed exhibition “Bloodflames” at the Hugo Gallery in New York, itself probably inspired by the 1938 Paris Surrealism show curated by Marcel Duchamp. Kiesler altered the viewer’s perception of the gallery, confusing ceilings and floors. Phong Bui commandeered Kasmin’s two venues: he built a red ramp to run from entrance to rear in both and covered the floors in hay, reconfiguring the concept of an art gallery by bringing the outdoors in. He also staged a performance involving dance and poetry.
Red, emblematic of blood or passion, was everywhere: Lynda Benglis’s sculpture Baton Rouge (1993–94) playing on the name of the Louisiana city and a stick, red from drawing blood; John Bock’s sexually ambiguous image combining a character from KISS with a Madonna femme-fatale; and Daniel Joseph Martinez’s blood-spattering machine all played into the frightening association between art-making and blood sacrifice. Roxy Paine’s neon sculpture Incident/Resurrection (2013), one man bashing another with a two-by-four, constituted a metaphor for the show’s entirety: to witness violence is to participate in it. Meanwhile, paintings by Dorothea Rockburne and Joanna Pousette-Dart contributed tranquility to this curatorial tour de force.
A version of this story originally appeared in the October 2014 issue of ARTnews on page 113.