Breaking and Entering

The same can't be said of the disproportionately large part of the exhibit devoted to money, in various counterfeit incarnations. There are five works from JSG Boggs, well known for his deviously altered renderings of bills that he attempts to pass off as real in the name of art. Tom Friedman has cut-and-pasted 36 dollar bills to look like one, rendering its value uncertain. By the time you get to Barton Lidice Benes and Howard Meyer's bale of shredded U.S. currency, you get the point, and for once the green stuff loses its appeal. These artists may be critiquing the arbitrary appearance of legal tender or the role of money in the art world, but one or two works would have been enough to make the point. Strangely, Boggs is the closest the curators come to the topic of art forgery, which could inspire a whole exhibit in itself. Such shortcomings, however, are easily overlooked in an otherwise fascinating and relevant show.

Dollar bill, y’all: Tom Friedman’s Untitled (1999), made of 36 cut-up bills
Photo courtesy of The Aldrich Museum of Contemporary Art
Dollar bill, y’all: Tom Friedman’s Untitled (1999), made of 36 cut-up bills

Details

Art at the Edge of the Law
Aldrich Museum of
Contemporary Art
258 Main Street
Ridgefield, Connecticut
Through September 9

"Art at the Edge of the Law" acknowledges the legacy of '60s and '70s counterculture, but stresses in the catalog that "these works contain a revolutionary element in highly unrevolutionary times." It may be true that today, riots and protests are comparatively few and far between, but the "establishment" operates in more subversive ways, controlling information access and invading privacy through new technologies. The artists in this show point the way toward a different sort of revolution, encouraging us to question authority and take the law, creatively, into our own hands.

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