Borough Hall


The home is past,” Theodor Adorno wrote in an essay on the melancholy of late 20th-century transience. It seems he’d never been to Brooklyn, however. Though domesticity may be a luxury in cramped Manhattan, in that more generous borough it’s widely available. This appealing show, one in a series featuring Brooklyn artists, focuses on works that use homely materials and a hands-on approach to reconfigure quotidian culture.

Ron Baron’s hanging entryway to the exhibition—a triumphal arch made from hundreds of baseball cards and curtain hooks—and his tower of discarded stuff (a plaid thermos, a used tire, a trophy figure) seem like allegories for the faded heroism of the domestic warrior. In her sculptures, Jean Blackburn patiently deconstructs ordinary objects (a ceramic pitcher, a table set for lunch, a chest of drawers) into puzzles that mime the complexity of human experience.

Andy Yoder weaves braided cloth, that most grandmotherly of materials, into uncanny forms: a Needy Rug that rises from the floor into a looming, cartoonlike phallus; punching bags that suggest a home composed in equal measure of comfort and aggression. In his Adolescence, a child’s metal swing hangs in the center of a silver chair, surrounded by icons that evoke both innocence and temptation.

Finally, Duane Hanson meets Meissen ware in the work of Ann Agee, a gifted ceramist whose small figurines depict ordinary people in streetwear transformed through brilliant, gilt color and finely observed detail into hypersensual, quasi-kitsch adornments. In laborously hand-painted wallpaper, Agee copies the labels of household products (Scott Tissue, Q-Tips, Tide) and in a blue-and-white, Delft-like tile mural, she depicts a power plant in an anonymous neighborhood, as if loving attention to the waste products of industrial culture could endow them with permanence and nobility.