Muscular Installation of Emerging Artist

P.S. 1 again fulfills contemporary mission with unabashed physicality

An afternoon at P.S.1 offers a panoramic view of the contemporary art landscape.

One artist to take note of is Phoebe Washburn, whose installation “Seconds of Something” is a sprawling morass of discarded wood remnants, newsprint, and custom paint rejected by customers. Unusable and tossed aside, these materials find their way into a wave of wood and scaffolding lunging from one end of the gallery to the other like a frightful roller coaster or a skateboard ramp.

Loose boards, protruding splinters, and screws provide the skin to the rickety wooden skeleton poking and prodding from below, creating the effect of ocean waves. Floating upon the surface are concentric shapes composed of old newsprint painted in a full spectrum of colors. Each cluster of colored paper is colored based on a relationship between time and consumption. The color association is not a particularly dominant idea and the color associations appear to be arbitrary; this is secondary to the installation’s overall strong physicality.

This work, like others in this young artists’ project, has a visual lineage to Judy Pfaff in the way she hijacks space with an excited mania of material and process and invades the environment without apology.

There is something unnerving about standing in the middle of Washburn’s complex structure. Washburn refers to her work as “spontaneous architecture” and this idea is reinforced through a misleading, slap-dash appearance of effortlessness. Don’t miss this ambitious wave of wood and clutter that seems on the edge of consuming the entire space and the viewer along with it.

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