Sunday, May 15, 2011

Louviere + Vanessa at A Gallery for Fine Photography; Dan Tague at the Jonathan Ferrara Gallery


Money ain't what it used to be. But then, it probably never was. Like love or health, it is never adequate unless there is enough of it, so perhaps it's no surprise that at least a few artists are making their own and incorporating it in their work. Marrero native Dan Tague reworks paper currency into ironic social commentaries in prints comprised of dollar bills that have been maniacally folded and flattened so the words are scrambled into phrases like Reality Sucks or even We Need a Revolution, above left, to create a whole new genre: radical monetary origami. Here convoluted textures and precise execution transform prints that might have been merely stunt-like into visual poetry with a punch line. Most of the other works--for instance a large, rather slapdash, mostly black and white painting of the famous image of the Marines raising Old Glory at Iwo Jima titled Corporate Reality--are more glibly typical of his “epater la bourgeoisie” provocation mode. Whatever. More thoughtfully ironic is his The Revolution Will Be Tweeted remake of an old Mao-era poster of the beaming Chairman hovering over a cadre of Revolutionary Guards waving smart phones instead of Red Books, bottom, but his currency series is still the main attraction here. It even became a self-fulfilling prophesy when collectors, including the Whitney Museum, bought some. So there you have it: do-it-yourself dollars. What could be more American than that?

 Iconoclastic local artists Louviere + Vanessa employ currency as “objets trouves” in their large photographic mixed media prints in this Counterfeit show, distilling the aesthetic content of the engravings found on the paper money of faraway places in works like His Eyes Crashed Upon the Frightened Shore, top, in which the tiny engraved head of a Bengal tiger from an Indian banknote appears vastly enlarged. Ditto The Stampede Toward Death Left Life Feeling Low, above, a kind of revolutionary scene imprinted with institutionalized anarchic passions. Printed on gold leaf, these works look more luminous than glitzy, with cracked and pigmented patinas suggesting the effects of time and abrasion in images that seem to glow with an eerie inner light. Daguerreotypes employed silver to achieve similar effects, and these works seem equivalently  alchemical, both technically and poetically. Not content with international currency manipulation, Louviere + Vanessa have given us a whole new approach to the gold standard. ~Bookhardt

COUNTERFEIT: Mixed Media Photographic Works by by Louviere + Vanessa Through June 30, A Gallery For Fine Photography, 241 Chartres St., 568-1313;
MAY I HAVE A REVOLUTION PLEASE: New Works by Dan Tague Through June 1, Jonathan Ferrara Gallery, 400A Julia St., 522-5471;