Jerry Meyer (2011)

Jerry Meyer: Civilization and Its Discontents reviewed in the Village Voice, May 4, 2011

In his May 4, 2011 review, “Best in Show: Jerry Meyer at Denise Bibro Fine Art,” Robert Shuster writes:

Combining Borscht Belt gags and Woody Allen–ish angst over sex and death, Jerry Meyer has assembled an arcade of wit and quirky nostalgia. Wall-mounted light boxes—bright with Pop colors and filled with images, objects, and joking text—beckon your attention like those old Coney Island machines that assessed your personality for a dime.

Freud’s famous essay (the show’s title) on repression and guilt provides the comic cues. In Worries and Unhappiness, Local and Express, a modified subway map renames all the stations as neuroses and afflictions—the No. 5 line in Brooklyn includes stops in Anhedonia, Anencephalic, and Ann Coulter. Further on, Stop Stop Please Stop presents a color-coded cycle of familiar parental admonishments above absurdist instructions for assembling a toy and dealing with ADHD.

Such amusements, tame with humor but engaging in their design, lead to the wacky central exhibit. Here, constructed from dynamite crates, a dimly lit room holds the century-old, experimental equipment of Harris Claster (Meyer’s fictional great grandfather), who converted women’s sexual energy into electricity. The skills evident in the artist’s earliest constructions—household appliances converted into objets d’art—give the tall tale its marvelous “authenticity.” Ancient voltmeters and other gauges have been cleverly modified, relabeled, and refitted with glowing displays to create devices like the Fantasy Booster and the Genital Convergence Electrical Threshold Generator. A wire-mesh cup grips the breast of a dressmaker’s dummy and a black dildo hangs menacingly on the wall from a frayed cord.

The scene of secluded deviancy suggests the dioramas of Edward Kienholz, while the carefully assembled historical touches, urging your belief in everything, bring to mind the disorienting “science” of L.A.’s infamous Museum of Jurassic Technology. There’s even an academic paper, written with Nabokovian playfulness by an invented art historian, that purports to examine Claster’s inspirations. It’s an imaginative, and very funny, tour de force.

For a link to the review, click here

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