Hands-Off Romance

The current show at New York's EFA Gallery is already ironic, if one pauses to consider its title, Meme: Romanticism. Memes are self-replicating entities, originally classified by science and more recently popularized by the purveyers of web 2.0 culture invested in the infectious popularity of phrases, videos, and other 'memes' on the net. So it pairs the revival of an old school art historical/ literary classification that, in some senses, revolves around 'self-love' with the phenomenon in which things reproduce like asexual wildfire. Swim your way through that premise and you'll find a range of interesting cinematic projects by seven artists. Curator Michele Thursz selected works by Tobias Bernstrup, Jeremy Blake, Claudia Hart, Michelle Handelman, Reynold Reynolds and Partick Jolley, and Carlo Zanni 'that utilize technological aesthetics, cultural symbolism, historic compositions, and narratives to expose the conceptual underpinning of Romanticism.' The show is designed like a theatre, with individual works being screened in the main room and prints from the videos being exhibited in the 'lobby.' There is, here, an allusion to Hollywood, that apogee of romance-churning machinery, especially as romanticism gave way to pop, a cultural moment that the show seeks to excavate. The artists give these issues a contemporary spin, working in newer media and a fresh context. The offline version of the show is up through March 31. - Irene Wu