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Strange Apparatus

By Rhizome

New York-based artist Lynda Abraham combines video, installation, and performance to create scenarios for the contemplation of complicated relationships. Many of these works engage the viewer's body to intensely dramatize these connections. In Compassion (2006), two people with a contentious relationship are strapped into a device that will alternately shove each partner's face into a trough of water until they learn to work together, in balance. In Toxic Drink (2001), Abraham presents a dark sculptural proposal to replace the liquid in water coolers at corrupt corporations with the excrement of their poisoned victims. Other capital ideas include inventions like the Humbler (2000), which keeps subordinate workers shackled into a crawling position, and the Neglect-O (2000), which "transfigures the adult from a useless parental unit into a toy" by allowing the child to play with and control the movements of an adult confined to a contraption that resembles a classic red wagon. These and many of Abraham's other projects allude to the interpersonal fallout that results from the "advances" of a technologically-evolved culture, while recalling the conventions of early, sketchy social science experiments and turn-of-the-(Twentieth)-Century kinetic novelties. Abraham's current solo show "Bad Behavior" is on display at Brooklyn's Dam, Stuhltrager Gallery until March 17. - Marisa Olson

Image: Lynda Abraham, Neglect-O, 2000

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