Sue de Beer
Harry Dodge & Stanya Kahn
Luis Gispert & Jeffrey Reed
Erik van Lieshout
Stephen G. Rhodes
Ryan Trecartin & Lizzie Fitch
Brock Enright’s work subsists in some realm that existed prior to any world of mutual recognition. In the very gesture of becoming what you most long for and most fear, the liberal, imaginary bond of reciprocally granting legitimacy to one another both implodes and explodes. It implodes because who would want only recognition if he or she is promised fulfillment? And it explodes because, naturally, this fulfillment is mediated by a phantasm: that of what it means to be fulfilled. The sexual overtones of Enright’s image are fully intentional, for what he deals with—both by trying over and over again to fully enter its realm and by employing more delimiting strategies of presentation—is jouissance, which, despite its tame translation into “enjoyment,” still connotes the excessive, deadly moment of “coming.” However, while one often has the impression that the artist does not abide by this realization, his own practice remains subject to the law that the closer the object of desire comes, the more it loses the mantle of sublimation and the dignity of the sublime; and the more it turns into the excessive, obscene Thing at the heart of darkness, the more horrifying one’s own subject position becomes, and the more pressure is exerted on the loose layers of identification that we call an “I.”
In his video-documentations of “kidnappings” in which the victims ask—and pay—for their pleasure, Enright deals with the encroachment of the real of jouissance by exerting control. Scripting the story of how the kidnapping will unfold, developing an “experience” for a “client” before any situation which could engender such an experience has ever unfolded, and positioning himself at the helm of the operation all serves to insures the object of these activities of Enright’s special talents. These talents are his radar-like ability to read the unconscious desires around him and to give himself an external structure by means of those desires while at the same time demolishing any internal ones. Still, with all its mask-wearing theatricality and boy-group bravado, these images can be breathtakingly touching thanks to the emotional tenderness that emerges from the interstices of brutal performativity, a tenderness which one is at times tempted to call love.
For example, in the performances in which Enright himself encounters an audience directly as his alter ego “Connie,” different issues emerge. Instead of doing unto others only as they want done unto them, he allows the audience to guide him, prod him, even abuse him at their beck and call. However, at a decisive moment in the performance, and in a manner that one could call almost psychoanalytic, Enright hands the process—and the fantasies driving it—right back to the audience. At the Vilma Gold Project Room in Berlin where Sweat for Crackers—Prototype (2006) (a collaboration with the musician Marcus Schmickler) was performed live from New York City via the internet, the audience was asked to tell “Connie,” who was sitting almost naked in a bathtub surrounded by toys, what to do. After a few hours, an audience member, seemingly made euphoric by the impression that there on the screen he had finally met someone like himself, took up a suggestive gesture of “Connie’s” and started to cut his own chest with a shard of glass. For a few minutes, the audience and the man cutting himself both expected “Connie” to do the same, to sign the narcissistic dance of mirrored selves with his own blood. But all that happened was that “Connie”—that is, Enright—wrote “I am scared” on a small piece of paper. Besides the signifying ambivalence experienced by some as they were reading on the hastily ripped up piece of paper “I am scared,” what really happened was that the cutter was left with his own phantasm, his own desire, thrown out of the warm embrace of finding likeness into the cold of being just with himself—of being himself. Combining both of these strategies by collecting their leftovers and signs, Enright now develops sculpture-like environments that serve as a kind of playground for after nightfall, as in the present exhibition. One can take this metaphor almost literally. Implicit in work like the exhibition Raising Dead Mothers (2005) is a radical concept of “play” and “comedy.” Like all new concepts, it remains largely empty while the work of the artist is still developing, constantly fighting with the limits of its approach and the danger of falling into its own traps. Still, it is a playground for after “the night of the world,” a kind of play which does not find its legitimation by referring to a normality to which one returns after the last one is counted out. It is a play which engenders its own world and which is not subjected to any form of legitimation. There is nothing there—nothing except the frozen forms of contingency shaped into time and space by jouissance and its force. There is nothing but the nakedness of these processes, or rather, its ejaculates, and the shattered social reality out of which it all was born.
|2007||Brock Enright, Perry Rubenstein Gallery, New York|
|2006||Sweat for Crackers—Prototype, with Markus Schmickler, Vilma Gold Project Space, Berlin |
Brock Enright, Laxart, Los Angeles
|2005||Raising Dead Mothers, Vilma Gold Gallery, London|
|2006||Forest, Cynthia Broan Gallery, New York|
|2005||Greater New York, P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center, New York|
|2004||Scream, Anton Kern Gallery, New York City|
|2003||The Horror of Art, Grazer Kunstverein, Graz, Austria|
|2001||Society of Control, American Fine Arts, New York|
Georg Leutner, World’s Best New Art (Nuremberg, 2006).
Holly Myers, “They’re Just Trying to Pass the Time,” in: Los Angeles Times, (March 2005).
Chris Lee, “Death Becomes Them,” in: Blackbook Magazine, no. 34 (Fall 2004).
Jerry Saltz, “Modern Gothic,” in: The Village Voice (February 2004).
Ana Finel Honigman, “New York Horticulture,” in: Artnet.com