Was that the artist who was wearing headphones at the opening, on a lit set and moving to the beat of a tune heard only by him, simultaneously becoming the star of the video being projected on a wall just to the other side of the set? Based on Dave McKenzie’s past projects--which have included conversing with passersby on a bench and another dance-oriented piece at Harlem’s Studio Museum--and that his show here is entitled “On Premises,” it quite likely was. There’s also another pair of headphones for those visitors brave enough to join the set. In the video, the ghost of Bill Cosby appears intermittently to look down on the ‘stars,’ and a separate video in one of the project rooms re-imagines “The Cosby Show’s” Theo’s room as more of a ghettoized crib. From these central points additional offerings seem disjointed but no less engaging and memorable. A revolving drycleaner rack spins around with a single metal paper-covered hanger that reads “Love Me, Jesus,” with ‘Love’ encircled by a heart. It’s a new twist on a still hot element of the zeitgeist. “Proposal” is an acrylic on unprimed canvas which states: “This painting is a proposal. I propose we meet once a year every year until one of us can’t or won’t.” Conceptual art is sometimes knocked for its coolness; for being short on the visual; for consisting of one-liners. But in some hands, such as McKenzie’s, such one-liners sing, transcending their typical limitations and stirring you up with no less verve than the more pictorially-minded.
Published courtesy of ArtScene © 2009