Junk Rock

At the exhibit "Bobo's on 27th," currently on view at Foxy Production in Chelsea, wall-text printed onto a section of the ceiling reads REINTERPRETATION PROHIBITED; easy to miss amidst the jumble of the show itself, the two words are only visible once you've entered the gallery, walked through most of it, and turned to face the doors. Despite the dire warning, the farrago of plastic and styrofoam floor trash, aggressively colorful, punk-ugly sculptures and monstrously expressionist paintings does indeed call for certain readings. At first, the debris seems real and accidental-- like you've stumbled into someone else's art-party a few hours after the beer ran out -- but on closer inspection, each piece of apparent garbage is revealed as its own carefully placed objet: crushed water bottles covered in painted foil or laser-printed labels, a handful of flyers for a (conceptually faux) Philadelphia technical college, a set of lightly abused Colonial-dress souvenir dolls, a cloud of color-coordinated plastic deli bags with their logos meticulously removed. The seeming collapse of a young collective's studio into the gallery ultimately reveals itself as careful artifice: theatrical props for the staging of an image of a 21st century bohemia-echo, a fake fiesta that actually took a lot of work and planning by more than a dozen individual artists. Desire the real thing, then? The show includes a live if buggy webcam feed from the parallel exhibit Bobo's on 9th, which runs concurrently at the art-band's home space in Philly -- but viewers are likely to spy Boboites in their native habitat doing nothing more riotous than checking email. The total effect is that not so much of a playroom but a set of a playroom: no wonder so much of the exhibit resembles a warped memory of a children's TV show, as seen in Barkev Gulesserian's giant golden Dog-buddha, Jesse Greenberg's toy-box-like "touchables" sculptures, and Bobo's own crudely built, push-button jukebox, which twitches, exhales and bubbles bongwater when a song is requested. The myth of the crazy young art-gang rubs off to reveal some industrious chums mixing labor and fun—and in the process, perfecting the mixture's recipe to allow for an effective blend of determined madness. - Ed Halter

Image: Jesse Greenberg, Invitational Booth Arch (from MEGA BINX series), 2008