If checklists weren’t so eager to disclose the cache, art viewing might aptly resemble an Easter egg hunt. Boomerang (1998), Melissa McGill’s small mirrored gobs of blown glass thoughtfully deposited throughout C/R/G’s premises, proposes an arduous round of hide and seek. Linking loneliness with joy, Boomerang indeed ricochets, as you locate abundance amidst an apparent barrenness. Remarkably, you can still appreciate this exhibit if you overlook some of the 50 or so silver splashes, dots, bumps, drips, slugs, bubbles, leaks, and scars punctuating the white cube’s erratic bends.
Just as Boomerang solicits an intimate rapport with the gallery’s surfaces, two conch shells beckon your attention. As you press an ear against a shell, breaths and vocal bits eclipse the expected ocean breeze. Clipped from Anna Magnani’s lines in Roberto Rossellini’s film Amore, the snippets suggest anticipation, surprise, agreement, and horror, though the nonverbal track lacks a conversational context. Like the silver slivers that emphasize the empty site, fragmented gasps bracket Magnani’s erased voice. By isolating speech’s pacesetters, McGill’s shells incidentally test Theodor Adorno’s theory that punctuation brings writing closer to musical cadence.
You could easily read Portrait X (19) (1998) as a parody of last fall’s notable appearance of Franz Xaver Messer-
schmidt’s busts. Handwrought from mill-gathered polar-fleece lint, Portrait X possesses equally expressive faces, yet the emotional content remains elusive. Expressions of doubt, smugness, want, inquiry, empathy, and frustration abound, yet the looks vary as your focus shifts between sunken eyes, distorted noses, and gaping mouths. More eerie still is the cadre of deformed art-historical characters unearthed: Giacometti’s alienated beings, Grosz’s pig heads, and Dubuffet’s Ur-men. By hiding clues, trimming text, and re-forming fuzz, McGill highlights sensual delight.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on March 2, 1999