Sunday, August 5, 2012

boy philosopher, white on white

big white cock, 2012, neon tubing and wire, Ed of 3, 69 x 60 x 3 inches

Terence Koh
yes pleased
The Fireplace Project

It's not that you don't expect to see a neon chicken hovering between earth and sky in's just that this neon chicken is upside down, hanging as if from a lynching or caught in a Chinatown restaurant window. That the original asianpunkboy a.k.a. Terence Koh has plugged in this particular chicken on the heels of the "Chic-Fil-A" melee -- yet another gross miscarriage of civil rights from the right -- is probably coincidence. Or...not?

On view at The Fireplace Project through August 12, the exhibit yes pleased features the above mentioned along with an installation of gold, marble, and au natural eggshells in a slightly ascetic and utterly surreal exhibition. 

Among these minimal subjects, symbolism abounds.

my mother destroyed me and still the tea iz the hope of my ship, 2012, eggshell gilded in 22 karat gold, Ed of 3

Of course, the proverbial golden egg came from a goose, not a chicken. Still, it's true that Aesop had the goose summarily executed -- an act of allegorical shortsightedness and greed in the extreme. Sound familiar? 

But for Koh, an artist whose body of work is both reverential and gleefully cultish, all allusions to meaning, metaphor, allegory, or semantics are purely conjecture. 

He's like a boy philosopher from a Jerzy Kosinski novel -- obtuse, poetic, obliquely political, and somehow, unequivocally divine.  Koh's surrealistic titles here, such as 
my son ate my family knot knowing about beauty, read like absurdist ballads or second cousins to Bob Dylan lyrics.

Koh is a consummate myth-maker, with one foot in the digital universe and the other planted squarely on terra firma. His website, books, and zines are a treat, his performances now stand alongside Chris Burden and Marina Abramovic, and his installations and projects feast on alchemy, fetishism, ambiguity, and comicality.

Witness his 2011 exhibition nothingtoodoo at Mary Boone, where he circled an immense salt pyramid on his knees during gallery hours -- nearly all day every day -- for five weeks. The margins of his pain threshold within reach, on occasion he was prostrate.

Much has been written about Koh -- Vito Schnabel has perhaps the best handle on this exhibit, featured on his Huffington Post page. Check it out here.

And by the way, stay away from those chicken sandwiches.

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