Art in the City: When Art Attacks

06/06/2007 12:00 AM |

Assume Vivid Astro Focus, A Very Anxious Feeling
John Connelly Presents
, through June 30th

A very anxious feeling is what you get when you arrive in a gallery and are told to take your shoes off, but you have a hole in your sock. A very anxious feeling comes over you when you don 3-D glasses and words like LICK and COCK and FUCK and BUSH suddenly jump out at you and your boyfriend’s mom (whom you’re there with, and who has no holes in her socks) from their posts against the wall. A very anxious feeling overtakes you when you wriggle into one of the available robes (covered with the above four-letter words, and others) attached to the wall and find at its far end a hole in said wall, and peek through this hole to see a woman — or is it a man? — wearing a black thong bathing suit and crawling around provocatively with her (his?) black armpit hair hanging all over the place. But really, you’re most anxious now, because she/he has noticed you. THE ART IS TURNING TOWARDS YOU! And she/he wiggles her/his androgynous butt as she/he scribbles something on a piece of construction paper and — WHAT IS SHE/HE DOING? — waggles back to you and passes you the note through the hole. “Secrets,” it reads, “R 4 Sharing.”

This is the experience promised to you this month at JCP, and it is not to be missed. Sprawling art collective Assume Vivid Astro Focus, which has ridden the wave of neo-psychedelia into its current place in the mainstream (see the Whitney’s “Summer of Love”), has covered every surface in the gallery (including a number of ordinary objects: chairs, a ladder, a bicycle) with their 3-D wallpaper. The special glasses available allow you to read the blue and red words that plaster the space. Each is four letters, sufficiently infused with political and sexual provocation, and arranged in the formation of Robert Indiana’s LOVE emblem from the ‘60s. As if wearing 3-D glasses and removing your shoes weren’t enough viewer participation, AVAF has transplanted an installation from a 2006 show in a separate room, visible only through portals in the wall with sheaths hanging off them. In this neon-light-adorned space, a series of performances are scheduled (find the full schedule at; the one I was lucky enough to experience was a quiet, interactive affair with the cross-dressing Dazzle Dancers. The soundtrack for the whole show is an upbeat electronic mix that wafts up from the gallery’s basement level. Follow your ears and you’ll be rewarded with an abstract series of fluorescent light paintings, layered in front of one another in a dim, narrow hallway. The pinks, greens and blues flash to a syncopated rhythm, evoking both elation and —  what else? — anxiety.