Elizabeth Cohen and Michael Talley


SIDESHOW GALLERY | MAY 5 - JUNE 3, 2001

Is our personal space self-determined or governed by the world-ordering of Pancapitalism? The negotiation of space as a form of intervention is the subject of Random Access, a collaboration between Brooklyn artists Elizabeth Cohen and Michael Talley.

Cohen and Talley situate various groupings of objects to do battle with each other from both corresponding and counter-perspectives. The first grouping we encounter incorporates video, a makeshift campsite on AstroTurf, canvas camp stools, a portable grill, gas can and tent-shaped antennae salvaged from Czech military surplus—a cross between the Cleavers-go-camping and a guerrilla outpost for eco-terrorists. The video depicts a young couple searching for an apartment in Brooklyn and can be viewed from either gender’s perspective. “Are we smarter because we build smarter environments?” asks one of the characters in the video play (written by Cohen). The conversation revolves around definitions of space (i.e., “cozy” as a euphemism for “really small”) and the reasoning or beliefs that determine these definitions.

In the middle of the space are two videos, Parade and Numbers, played on facing monitors. Two distinctly different forms of following are paired here. The participants in Numbers attempt to reposition themselves by physically mimicking the shapes numbers ordered in succession by a disembodied voice. Parade is a video of the Berlin Fuck Parade, which was formed as an alternative to the once-alternative, now-commercial Love Parade. The Fuck Parade is a disorderly dance party (like the Brazilian parade or Mardi Gras), where groups of youths follow behind flatbed trucks carrying their favorite band. Both Parade and Numbers represent examples of movement or counter-movement, of randomness or deviation from predetermined patterns.

What, then, do a braided rag rug and a motor scooter made from refrigerator parts (the scooter is equipped with a Global Positioning System and actually can be ridden) have in common? At first glance, not much, except that the scooter is painted to match the carpet. But both the rug and the scooter are made from materials that at one time or another served another function—a use value that has undergone a metamorphosis. The rug, which is hung on the wall like a map, also acts as a positioning device; a pattern for determining our location as we navigate through a global space, that—in the words of Henri Lefebvre—is “permeated with social relations.”

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