Now in its 3rd incarnation, Jonah Freeman and Justin Love's ode to a meth lab continues to amaze. Converting a pristine gallery space in Soho into a multi-level labyrinth of detritus and oddities, they capture the zeitgeist of today's meth culture -- right down to the smell.
You show up, sign a waiver (it's a rickety installation) and walk into a bright room of fluorescent bulbs and so begins your journey into the rabbit hole. Up and down stairs and crawling through holes between walls, you immediately forget you're in a gallery. The exhibit creates a palpable tension of what might be around the next corner. Guns? A body? Snarling guard dogs? Nope, just a tripped out version of a Chinese apothecary. Is that blood on the floor in the next room? Nope, just the red carpet of an incongruent high-end gallery space showcasing cacti paintings. My favorite space was the upstairs chill-out spiritual center of the exhibit. Alongside rows and rows of jars preserving random objects like t-shirts in liquid were traditional totems like cow skulls and dream-catchers. The thin layer of separation between the viewer and actual gallery space (you could peek through wooden planks and see the actual ceiling) is a faux-geodesic dome of brightly colored fabrics stretched over a timber framework.
At the end of the day, it's less of a judgement on meth and more of an anthropological study of what counter-culture has become today. Black Acid Co-op is a must see if you'll be in New York before August 15th. Check out my flickr set to see the whole show. More info at www.deitch.com.
Roberta Smith's review here. updated 7/18/2009