Wonderworld Space was an attraction that existed in Williamsburg, Brooklyn for a few months this past fall. Located in a big pink warehouse, Wonderworld was fitted with multiple, Instagram-able rooms, each housing a themed-fantasy scenario in which selfie-obsessed young ladies could stage impromptu photo shoots. Yawn City. In other words, it was a total waste of time for normal people like me to go there unless you could get in for $5 (regular admission price: $25), which we did. Because anything is worth $5. I got a few blog-worthy snaps out of the visit, so it was money well-spent. These Pink Neon Roses floating around the word Love were part of a room with different neon art on each of its four walls. I’m not sure how good selfies come out when taken in a room that is mostly dark, but I think this shot looks pretty cool without people in it.
I spied this softly glowing Pink Neon Light Fixture from where I was seated at a corner table in the bar-adjacent dining room at Quality Eats, and at first I thought it looked like a pair of pink birds. But once I walked out past the bar, I could see that this illuminated sculpture depicts a pair of hands, grasping delicate cocktail glasses (or possibly champagne flutes, if the tiny, neon bubbles are any indication) and about to raise a celebratory toast. Cheers to that!
Unless I am in some kind of crazy hurry, getting temporarily lost or misdirected in NYC is always a blessing, because it allows me to stumble upon amazing finds like this fantastic Neon Tiger. I spotted this beauty, from the sidewalk, inside a casual-menswear boutique called Blue In Green, which is located on Greene Street, one block north of Canal, in SoHo. Grrr.
Claire Oliver Gallery is currently hosting Rules to Live By, new works from Australian artist Matthew Sleeth. This is Sleeth’s fourth solo exhibition with the gallery.
In Rules to Live By, Sleeth seeks to draw attention to how signs program us to behave in a prescribed manner. By adopting their form and aesthetic while misappropriating their ideology, the artist has constructed a series of sculptural works that question the dogma of a politically correct society.
With this new body of work, the artist suggests we delve beyond superficiality for a deeper meaning in life. The texts featured in these works are sourced from a combination of found, combined, appropriated or completely invented signs or instructions.
Rules to Live By builds directly from Sleeth’s pivotal 2011 installation, The Rise and Fall of Western Civilization (And Other Obvious Metaphors), which was also exhibited at Claire Oliver. The Rise and Fall encompased a 120 foot, three-ton concrete and plywood sculpture, representing a freeway system arcing through space (and rising from knee height to over 12 feet in the air) with a road surface populated with various signs, images and objects. Inspired by the public response to the messages portrayed in that installation, Sleeth choose to expand on the irony of the impact mass media has on the population at large.
Sleeth explains, “Over many years, I have explored concepts of ‘algorithmic control’ in my work. I have been particularly interested in signs as a cultural iconography; I am both seduced by their elegance and uneasy with their Orwellian effectiveness.”
“These roadmaps of sorts are the rules we live by; they are the software that controls the way we negotiate our environment. I have long been fascinated by these sets of instructions that hold such sway over us. Why is it so difficult to ignore a sign?”
The contested behaviors being negotiated in each sign are either encouraged or discouraged by the assumptions embedded or coded in the text. Many of the conventions explored in these works depend on a range of cultural assumptions in order to function. Part of the rationale of this project is to make these assumptions visible through the process of pattern recognition within and between the insignias.
The images in Rules We Live By appropriate the formal qualities and exacting methods of fabrication of their cultural referents. The viewer is meant to recognize the codes of persuasion being used in each work and how these refer to the social contexts from which they are drawn.
Matthew Sleeth’s Rules to Live By will be on Exhibit Through December 3rd, 2016 at Claire Oliver Gallery, Located at 513 West 26th Street in the Chelsea Gallery District.