New York CityGymnasium
December 7, 2019 – January 12, 2020
If Pornhub had a section called “art-for-pay” (maybe next to gay-for-pay), we might find some of the beautiful, cynical things in This is your captain speaking there, reluctantly thrown into a similarly exploitative assemblage of space, bodies, and capital that is the contemporary art world. Louis Osmosis and Thomas Blair emerge from this swamp beleaguered but hopeful, with doctored images and deceptive sculptures that try to critique the abyss from which they came. This is your captain looks and acts like an art exhibition, but it is most informative when we pay attention to its cracks. Nothing is as it seems; the ruse is up.
Take Osmosis’s Akari 1N, 2019, a hornet’s nest undercover as an Isamu Noguchi lamp, or Big Dunce (2019), a craft project that is actually a meticulous trompe l’oeil painting. Osmosis’ smart, enigmatic sculptures are almost better understood as retouched photographs in their charlatanism. Blair picks up on this logic of the “retouch” and explores its relationship to other systems of value: a pixelated close-up of a Yeezy sneaker feels like a grainy representation of pure cultural capital, tiny thumbnails masquerade as art photos. If after photoshop, no image can be trusted; today, in the age of the deepfake, no sculpture, person, or reality is what is appears to be. This is the malaise that This is your captain speaking confronts. And like Osmosis’s meticulous renderings of the backs of strangers’ heads, it seems to try to warn us that we’re walking forwards with our heads backwards.