Patrick Killoran: ‘Exeunt Angels’
56 Bogart Street is a former industrial building in Bushwick, Brooklyn, that surrendered itself, some years ago, to the exhibition of art. The surrounding neighborhood has more than its share of artists, creative collectives and short-term revelers making the scene, but the artists shown at 56 Bogart hail from around the world.
There are about a dozen galleries in total, and the most consistently interesting and original of them is Studio 10. The gallery is currently showing Exeunt Angels, by the conceptual artist Patrick Killoran. The title is from the stage directions in Christopher Marlowe’s play Doctor Faustus, which has triggered in Killoran a biting meditation on contract law.
The contract in Marlowe of course is between Faust and his soul, the latter sold for the earthly benefit of the former. But the time for such metaphysical agreements has long ended. Now we have the Supreme Court’s 2010 decision known as Citizens United, which extends to corporations the rights of individual citizens. A different kind of soul is being sold here—the democratic soul of electoral campaigns.
Killoran has mounted part of the decision on a giant sheet of black vinyl, but the words are written backwards. To read them, you must look at their reflection in an equally large mirror mounted on the opposite wall. As you make out the words, you have no choice but to contemplate the meaning of your own image in the equation. What is the definition of an individual person, and what part of that person is for sale?
Killoran attempts to answer the question with a bolt of dark humor: splayed on the floor of the gallery is the rubber cut out of a shadow he has purchased. A bill of sale sits beside it, along with Killoran’s promise to protect the shadow or at least keep it “alive.”
In a corner of the gallery is a chair stacked with books. Killoran has supplied them all with a plain, yellow cover that offers no indication of their titles or content. On the covers are the words, “I have no owner. Do not keep me in storage or put me on a shelf, deliver me to the next reader.” We are being offered the purest and most simple contract possible: the exchange of ideas anonymously and free of charge.
Exeunt Angels is at Studio 10 until February 1. For more information, visit studio10bogart.com.
56 Bogart Street,