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Jonathan Horowitz - Minimalist Works from the Holocaust Museum

Dundee Contemporary Arts, until 20 February
4 stars
Don’t be fooled by the apparent dryness of the title of this major solo
show by one of the most provocative American artists of the last twenty
years. Rather than mimic the worthy but dull, opaque and downright
neutered works that populate the United States Holocaust Museum itself,
Horowitz serves up an infinitely more colourful and less ambiguous
oppositionist response to assorted holocausts from a defiantly outsider
position.

So the life-size photograph of an American tank emblazoned with a
bumper sticker size image of a pink ribbon reflects the more feminised
response to breast cancer produced in response to the ‘Support Our
Troops’ ribbons that appeared during the Iraq War. This sets out
Horowitz’s store from the off, as he joins the dots between the artists
who actually did produce work for the Museum alongside a fiercely
partisan sense of creative and political solidarity.

The centerpiece of all this is ‘Apocalypto Now’, a video cut-up of
sensurround disaster movies and documentary footage that creates a
narrative of latter-day holocausts – religious, sexual, ecological,
governmental and artistic - recycled into a jump-cut composite where
the epic join between real life and its wide-screen Hollywood
interpretation becomes impossible to spot.

A central figure of the collage is born-again cretin Mel Gibson, whose
own fall from grace from cutting-edge superstar to booze-sodden
wife-beating racist can be seen elsewhere in the transformative series
of movie posters that see him morph comic-strip style from Mad Max to a
failed hangdog messiah.

‘Pink Curve’ reclaims the symbol Nazis tainted their homosexual victims
with on a grand scale; ‘Pillow Talk Bed’ jumps between the sheets with
double acts from John and Yoko to Rock Hudson and Doris Day; ‘Crucifix
For Two’ suggests institutional executions come, as with Noah’s Ark, in
tandem; another video piece, ‘Art Delivers People’, serves up a
hand-bitingly uncompromising message punctuated by the sepulchral loops
of Philip Glass organ music.

All of this is too clever to be angry polemic, however, and lends a
quietly inclusive wit to its world-changing intent. The closing credits
of ‘Apocalypto Now’ say it all: ‘Universal’.

The List, January 2011

ends

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