Jonah Freeman and Justin Lowe have made another installation that is a world unto itself, (smells, and artifacts contextualized in their created reality) at Marlborough Gallery in Chelsea. Like their previous collaborative installations, “Hello Meth Lab in the Sun” (2008), a (duh) meth lab, and “Bright White Underground” (2010), the druggy unraveling of a fictionalized psychiatrist Dr. Cook installed in The Buck House, “Stray Light Grey” at Marlborough Chelsea has a complex narrative that gives meaning to the objects in it, and motivation to its absent characters. The title is a reference to cyberpunk author William Gibson’s Villa Straylight from his Sprawl trilogy, an “endless series of chambers linked by passages” (Gibson). The gallery has been transformed into a endless series of chambers that are closer to an urban environment, from a plastic surgeon’s office to a library, connected by holes in the sheet rock that look like they were made to escape through. Each room has a different façade, specific or re-branded paraphanalia (books, “Twilight of the High Class Philistines,” jugs of drugs labeled “DNA Recalibrator,” crystalline art), and a level of grime appropriate for its stratum (tit t-shirts at the Shore-layers of dust, to exhibition cleanliness).
After “Hello Meth Lab in the Sun”, reception of Freeman and Lowe’s work frequently centers on the fictional drugs they create and paraphanlia present. The exhibition’s title reference to Gibson contextualizes their work beyond a collection of items, like Damien Hirst’s “Pharmacy”; Freeman and Lowe are storytellers of dystopian life past (“Bright White Underground”), present (“Hello Meth Lab in the Sun”), and future “Stray Light Gray”. It’s not pretty, but it is pretty amazing.
Jonah Freeman and Justin Lowe’s ”Stray Light Grey” is on view at Marlborough Chelsea through October 27.
There are great images of the exhibit at Art Fag City.