Jon Kessler: The Blue Period, at Salon 94 Bowery: Full of Blue Paint
We've seen three of Jon Kessler's wild installations over the past few years–the first, the massive Palace at 4:00 a.m. at PS1, was incredible–and even though they've been thematically and mechanically similar, we really don't get tired of the man's work. Take Jon Kessler's The Blue Period, which he created in 2007 but is now being shown for the first time in America at Salon 94 Bowery. Here, in one glorious explosion of whirring, splattery, flickering madness, are all of the elements that make a Jon Kessler installation such a pleasure: spinning surveillance cameras, stacks of monitors, miniature worlds, kinetic machines. And tons of blue paint. And cut-out people and tiny faces. And spectacle to burn.
Part of the fun (and interactive-ness) of a Jon Kessler installation is trying to match up the many closed-circuit cameras with the screens on which their images are being projected. And even though Kessler's Blue Period is fairly small (as compared to the Palace at 4:00 a.m., anyway), most of the surveillance cameras in the piece are in constant motion, or are tucked away inside a diorama-ish structure, and the monitors aren't always placed in logical positions, or they're part of a pile, so unless you have a friend (or an eager child) willing to be "camera bait", the visual stimulus can be a little too overwhelming to figure out the work's internal structure. Not that you need to understand The Blue Period in order to appreciate its energy and creativity…
In addition to the whole camera/monitor interaction, our other favorite part of Jon Kessler's Blue Period is his liberal use of life-size photographic cut-outs of hip young men and women, often splattered (or decorated) in blue paint. When you're the only viewer at the Salon 94 Bowery, wandering through the piece in the gallery's downstairs room, the corner-of-your eye presence of all these other "people" can be a bit unnerving. And, finally, there's Kessler's great double-barreled, zoetrope-ish, mini-head sculpture, which spins somewhat frantically in the back and throws shadows to match the blue splatter that covers the walls. Very cool, all of it.
Jon Kessler: The Blue Period at Salon 94 Bowery details
Jon Kessler's installation the Blue Period will be at Salon 94 Bowery until March 10. The Salon 94 gallery is located on Bowery between Stanton and Rivington Streets, just north of the New Museum, and is open on Wednesday through Saturday from 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. On Tuesday Salon 94 Bowery opens at 1:00 p.m. For more information about the gallery and Jon Kessler's The Blue Period, please see the Salon 94 website, here.