series of “Stacks”—the sleek, painted iron boxes installed vertically on a wall
like ladder rungs—and replace those minimalist forms with black basketball
hoops; the result is Oh, what
a feeling, Fuck it, I want a Trillion
(2014). A response to Judd and a
reflection on his own upbringing, Erizku injects adolescent experiences, in
this case, shooting hoops on public courts in his native New York, to develop a
dialogue on cultural identity and contemporary art.
Juxtaposing the revered world of art history with his own daily
life, Erizku’s “The Only Way
,” now on view at Hasted Kraeutler
synthesizes iconic works of art and New York City streets. His interests lie in
morphing the context and purpose of ready-made objects, working in a range of
mediums including photography, sculpture, and video installation. While the
bulk of his work focuses on self-discovery, it also delves into
African-American culture in an effort to alleviate the relative absence of
people of color throughout art history.
In two squares of black leather hung on the wall, the artist takes
inspiration from ’s OOF
(1982) and, in neon, displays the words “#TRILL,” paired with an old Michael
Jackson record, and “#WAVY,” with a Barack Obama t-shirt. Both words have roots
in urban vernacular and, viewed alongside political and cultural symbols, they
conjure both the street and the historic African American figures they reference.
Keeping with the young artist’s mission to combine art world
formalities with urban character, Erizku teamed up with New York DJ Kitty Ca$h
to create a mixtape to serve as the soundtrack for the exhibition, featuring
songs that have inspired works in the show. “The Only Way is Up” takes its
title from a Quincy Jones record—whose message was to empower and
uplift—reflecting the revisionist slant and boot-straps self-determination of
an exhibition that seeks to write African Americans back into the history of
“The Only Way Is Up” is on view at Hasted
Kraeutler June 19th–August 15th, 2014.
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