Friday, 3 December 2010

Jonathan Horowitz @ DCA

For the screening of Jonathan Horowitz’s 20-minute film Apocalypto Now, the audience is seated in a chamber that’s declared to be entirely carbon-neutral and impeccably eco-friendly. We’re gathered here to see a film that cuts up Hollywood disaster movies with news reports of environmental destruction, an Armageddon presided over by the smirking, would-be lovable rogue Mel Gibson, earnestly propagating his faith while flirting with a starstruck interviewer. This gripping, terrible spectacle has the fickle gallery crowd glued to their seats. Nobody moves for the duration, truly a rarity on a busy opening night. Apocalypto Now is the explosive centrepiece of Horowitz’s solo show at the DCA, Minimalist Works from the Holocaust Museum. Presenting art that dares to tackle heavy subjects, his work delivers big themes with a direct approach, sweetening the pill with doses of elegance and wit. Pink Curve remakes an Ellsworth Kelly sculpture from the Washington DC Holocaust Museum, here presented in the colour pink used to mark out homosexuals in Nazi Germany. The pristine white Pillow Talk Bed features pillows emblazoned with the names of renowned couples of recent history, unfathomable personal relationships now put up for public consumption. Throughout the display we find art that plays a reassuringly straight bat, accessible and easy to digest. When discussing politics and popular culture, such an approach is surely reasonable enough. As to whether it’s then necessary to hand out leaflets explaining the meanings of each artwork, that’s when your correspondent starts to pine for something that retains at least an element of mystery. It could just be me, but I don’t need telling what tofu is. Despite all this, Minimalist Works from the Holocaust Museum undoubtedly succeeds in its own strident fashion. This is the end of the world as media event, a rapid jump cut from phosphorus rocket fire to the twinkling of Mel’s eye.

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