Joseph R. Wolin, “Bryan Zanisnik,” Artforum (Picks), October 2009
The galley is pleased to announce Dry Bones Can Harm No Man, in which photographs of carefully constructed tableaus incorporate highly personal as well as found objects, suggest order and disorder, and contain absolute meaning and no meaning at the same time. The richly patterned backdrops both hide and reveal domestic objects such as family photos, kitchen utensils, bars of hotel soap, a collection of Americana novels, and antique toys, all existing in a non-hierarchical space. Rather than directly addressing nostalgia or domesticity, the photographs bring to mind impending concerns about preservation and decay.
The spaces within the photographs constantly shift, appearing one moment as a private and authentic locale and the next as a subjective and fictitious construct. In “The Waning Song,” objects such as a hanging bathrobe, turned-over birdcage, and a pile of condoms suggest an absent character wandering somewhere throughout the home. In “Dad and the Twelve Signs,” the artist’s father plays the role of a fictional character staging a sort of pseudo-tribal, zodiac ritual.
In the 2-channel video, “Preserve,” we follow Zanisnik’s father as he leads the viewer through both a taxidermy museum in Northern Maine and the artist’s childhood home in New Jersey. His father acts as a tour guide and salesperson, feeding us important —yet concurrently banal— information about the objects on display. Shifting between a private, domestic space and a public, institutional space, the artist’s father explains why the objects before him are significant, retained, and preserved. A continuation of an ongoing collaboration with his own father, the dialogue between the artist as video maker and the father as performer creates a portrait of time, aging, decay, and an intimate exploration of one’s own relationship to their surroundings.
In conjunction with the exhibition, a live performance will take place at SUNDAY L.E.S. on Saturday, November 7, 3:00pm.
Bryan Zanisnik (b. 1979, Union, NJ) lives and works in Brooklyn, NY. He received an MFA from Hunter College and attended the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture. His work has been featured in group exhibitions at the Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago, IL; The Soap Factory, Minneapolis, MN; Exit Art and P.P.O.W., New York, NY, among others. His work has been mentioned in The New York Times, The Village Voice, Art on Paper, and New York Magazine, among others. Bryan’s video work will be featured concurrently in Seven Easy Steps, a video screening series held at Horton Gallery, on October 13th and November 17th.