In his fourth solo show at Nicole Klagsbrun Gallery, John Pilson presents Long Story Shorts on view from November 4 – December 23, 2011 at 526 West 26 Street, No. 213.
A reception for the artist will be held on Friday, November 4, from 6-8pm.
Well-known for his deadpan takes on the mundane routines and abrupt transitions of daily life, Pilson continues his exploration of contemporary, post-industrial society in playful and subversive ways. Pilson’s great talent is his ability to dramatize the impersonal and absurd aspects of his subjects’ lives with strange, unexpected, and disquieting nuances. His strategies of storytelling and use of non-professional actors – often in the clinical atmosphere of office buildings and other workplaces – infuses the work with humor, while offering a biting socio-political critique at the same time.
The central work in the main gallery, Frolic and Detour (2010), is a nine-channel video installation, commissioned by MoMA for the 9 Screens project. The piece takes its title from a legal term that refers to, “Employee conduct that is outside the scope of employment and is undertaken purely for the employee’s own benefit.” In this piece, shifting environments that range from offices to bedrooms and from tennis courts to psychiatrists’ couches provide the backdrops for days in the life of the protagonist Arnold Mandell, a native New Yorker and Attorney-at-Law who has performed in Pilson’s earlier videos.
A Natural Person (2011) is a photographic series that examines the darkly comic fate of paper as found in a small cluster of a patent lawyer’s offices in midtown Manhattan. Here we witness one of the last sites in the post-digital workplace where paper remains king and the coded language of bulging application files collide with the equally inscruitable scraps, doodles, notes, photos, and other icons that personalize an otherwise sterile office cube.
Also featured are photographs from the series, Wortgelt Study (2007), in which Pilson casts a 1920’s Park Avenue apart- ment, permanently installed at the Brooklyn Museum, with a prohibition era ‘secret bar’. The psychological and cinematic character of the room shifts as it ‘role’ changes from being the backdrop for unglamorous fashion shoots and low budget period films to a crime scene or a workplace.
The videos on view give prismatic form to Pilson’s ongoing vision of cinematic play, performance, and the frequent genre collisions that require dramatic negotiations. The program includes Idea for Film and _Night of the Hunter, both from 2009, as well as A Dick and a Jerk, Zombie Takes, and Marnie Engine, all from 2011.
John Pilson lives and works in New York. His film, video, and photographic works have been exhibited internationally including exhibitions at the Centre Pompidou in Paris, the Museum of Modern Art and the Guggenheim Museum in New York, the Venice Biennale, Prospect1 in New Orleans, Castello di Rivoli, Museo d’Arte Contemporanea in Rivoli, and at the Barbican Gallery in London. Long Story Shorts coincides with September 11, a major group show featuring works by Pilson at MoMA PS1 in Long Island City, New York, until January 9, 2012.