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Leif Ritchey Installation - ATM

Leif Ritchey, ATM Gallery, 170 Avenue B, NYC, through Feb. 13. This work is probably the antithesis of what this page is into--it's in the vein of assemblage, expressionism, Rauschenberg, Cornell & combing through trashbins and thriftstores, as opposed to Minimalism, pop, artificiality, and the questionably sincere. Nevertheless one can't help but respond to many of the elegant, intimate aspects of Ritchey's installations and sculptures, which were described earlier here and which can be found lurking in crevices or down near the baseboards of this ATM show--abstract tangles of ripped and resewn bricabrac, accumulations of costume jewelry as intricate as Peter Greenaway place settings, a strip of fabric painted with a skunk stripe of plaster and curled inside a striped plastic box. The show could have been edited drastically, but again, that might be missing the point. A running theme of dresses hanging on hangars and wadded female apparel stuffed in boxes added a kink factor, or at the very least a Miss Havisham factor of faded, disappointed sexuality.* Dense accumulations of fetishistic found and altered objects invoke Michael Tracy, an ur-Catholic artist from the Texas border briefly in vogue in the 80s, and at worst, Arman's stuffing of detritus into Plexi cubes.

Insider detail: one might recognize the black and white photo in the piece above as the Felix Gonzales-Torres edition offered as a takeaway at the MOMA-Q(uee)NS opening a couple of years ago, still bearing traces of being rolled up and flattened, as most were.** The soul of Chelsea minimalism meets the essence of East Village maximalism, with the shrine of plaster-smeared objects providing an elegiac link.

Ritchey's video and music may actually be his most successful form of urban collage: the "Flatbush Windows" VHS described in the earlier post still haunts, and this track [mp3 removed] from a recent 4-song CD-R takes the noise jam into the realm of strolling big city cool. Think detuned portable radio, where every station plays house or funk.

*UPDATE: Learned on a return visit that Ritchey makes the clothing himself, and the show somewhat indiscriminately mingles his fashion work (which is quite good) with his assemblage work, hence my confusion. More on my second visit soon.

**UPDATE 2: A Major Art Personage visiting the gallery today didn't recognize the Gonzales-Torres until I dweebily pointed it out.

More pics, commentary, and discussion here and here.

- tom moody 1-15-2005 8:59 am [link]