Friday, May 11, 2012

Jade Townsend - Leviathan - Lesley Heller Workspace

I met Jade when I was 15 years old. We were both skateboarders in Des Moines and that pretty much meant we had to be friends. When I was 21 and trying to move to New York, I stayed at Jade's place while looking for an apartment. He had lived in Brooklyn for a while and seemed to have the city wired. He knew how to do things and more amazingly how to make things.  Despite a general zeitgeist of sardonic dismissal Jade was sincere and earnest and optimistic. He seemed to think if you worked harder than other people and believed in what you were doing, you'd eventually move forward. To be honest, at the time I thought he was a little naive. Well, I was wrong and I've enjoyed watching him prove me wrong over and over

Jade sometimes works as an art handler, and here he splays out the art handler's box truck like the skeleton of a fallen mammoth. The cab of the truck has a video projected on the windshield that is a looping, endless drive through the city. Tools adorn the dash. Elsewhere, a large painting obscures and renders faceless the person carrying it. It has nearly invisible red-on-red text that reads "Big Red Painting About Sex and Death" jabbing at the dreck that they must shuttle around every day. It's funny and a little heartbreaking to me. I've watched Jade (and many other artist friends who work in the unglamourous industry of art) spend far too much time and energy schlepping and processing other artists' nondescript turds when they should be working on their own projects. 

There are allusions to Moby Dick scattered throughout the installation, but if there is an Ahab to be found it is not Jade. He has not been pulled down by the beast. He remains positive and hopeful. In this case I guess maybe you could call him Ishmael. Wacka-wacka-wacka.