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Time Out New York
August 7-14, 2003, Issue 410, p. 67, ill.

by Barbara Pollack

Danese, through Aug. 26 (see 57th St.).

Seascapes and swimming pools are kept to a minimum by “H2O,” a group exhibition curated by Jo-Anna Isaak that takes a refreshingly complex tack in approaching this age- old theme. Here, a new crew of Turners and Homers take the plunge discovering some of the more murky undercurrents of this seemingly transparent subject.

Watercolors might seem the natural choice for water-oriented artworks, but video proves an equally effective medium for conveying fluidity. In "Ebb," Amy Jenkins projects an image of an uncannily lifelike bathing woman into a scaled down porcelain tub: we watch as her menstrual fluid flows out of the pink tinted bathwater back into its source, her body. Janet Biggs’ poetic video, "Apraxia," combines a water ballet with the fountain of youth, as two elderly women regain flexibility and grace in the buoyancy of a swimming pool. The body—which is 90 percent water—is still more viscerally evoked in Jeanne Silverthorne’s "Sweat Pore," a magnified view of a single pore, cast in rubber and encased in a dark baroque frame. Sally Mann updates the “bathers” tradition in "Three Graces," which shows the artist and her two daughters, naked and exuberantly peeing on a seashore jetty.

Water pollution is a subtheme in this compact exhibition of 24 artists. In his "Environmental Aesthetic Series," Mark Jones tones black and white photos of industrial views to suggest the presence of invisible poisonous fluids contaminating our water supply. Christy Rupp fill an oversize wire armature, shaped like a nautilus, with clear plastic water bottles, using typical beachfront garbage to address the issue of ocean pollution. Kiki Smith approaches the topic more obliquely, summing up a wealth of sorrow in a succinct gesture with "Brown Water"—ten large, tea-colored glass tears displayed on a pedestal.

—Barbara Pollack

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