Jonathan Horowitz: Minimalist Works from the Holocaust Museum
- Neil Cooper
- 14 January 2011
Colourful response that lends a quietly inclusive wit to its world-changing intent
Don’t be fooled by the apparent dryness of the title of this major solo show by one of the most provocative American artists of the last 20 years. Rather than mimic the worthy but dull, opaque works that populate the United States Holocaust Museum itself, Horowitz serves up an infinitely more colourful and less ambiguous oppositionist response to assorted holocausts from a defiantly outsider position.
So the life-sized photograph of an American tank emblazoned with a bumper sticker-sized image of a pink ribbon reflects the more feminised response to breast cancer produced in response to the ‘Support Our Troops’ ribbons that appeared during the Iraq War. This sets out Horowitz’s stall from the off, as he joins the dots between the artists who actually did produce work for the Museum alongside a fiercely partisan sense of creative and political solidarity.
The centrepiece of all this is ‘Apocalypto Now’, a video cut-up of sensurround disaster movies and documentary footage that creates a narrative of latter-day holocausts – religious, sexual, ecological, governmental and artistic – recycled into a jump-cut composite where the epic join between real life and its wide-screen Hollywood interpretation becomes impossible to spot.
A central figure of the collage is born-again cretin Mel Gibson, whose own fall from cutting-edge superstar to booze-sodden, wife-beating racist can be seen elsewhere in the transformative series of movie posters that depict him morphing comic-strip style from Mad Max to a failed hangdog messiah.
‘Pink Curve’ reclaims the symbol Nazis tainted their homosexual victims with on a grand scale; ‘Pillow Talk Bed’ jumps between the sheets with double acts from John and Yoko to Rock Hudson and Doris Day; ‘Crucifix For Two’ suggests institutional executions come, as with Noah’s Ark, in tandem; another video piece, ‘Art Delivers People’, serves up a hand-bitingly uncompromising message punctuated by the sepulchral loops of organ music by Philip Glass.
All of this is too clever to be angry polemic, however, and lends a quietly inclusive wit to its world-changing intent. The closing credit of ‘Apocalypto Now’ says it all: ‘Universal’.
Dundee Contemporary Arts, until Sat 20 Feb