Review /

Justin Lowe and Jonah Freeman Marlborough Chelsea / New York

“A fever dream” is how Justin Lowe and Jonah Freeman refer to their own work. Collages, imaginary books with fake and hilarious titles, improbable props, issues of their fictitious magazine Artichoke, vintage wallpapers, crystal cactus or rice sculptures, mirror canvases, capsule installations, dusty corridors and rooms inspired by another era, architectural scale shifts, music and poetry… Their media seem infinite. Smell is the only sense they haven’t explored yet. Their art suggests a Venn diagram with three circles overlapping: real references, illusions, and fictional narratives. As spectators, we constantly shift from one circle to the other. We navigate through different realms of consciousness: aesthetic awe, hallucinatory excitement, blurred memories, sensations of déjà-vu, and this strange feeling that we are on an investigation, about to solve a mystery. Or maybe we are just trekking through a dreamscape.

The centerpiece of the show is a thirty-two-minute-long film entitled Floating Chain (2014), composed of shorts inspired by ’80s vintage commercials. Organized like a Rube Goldberg machine, a psychedelic musical score alternates with surrealistic spoken words. This soundtrack creates a feeling of hypnosis. Many of the props used in the movie are on display across the different rooms.

Like their previous shows, “Floating Chain (High-Res Toni)”is a linear succession of installations. Through curtains, broken walls or secret doors, each room-to-room passage has a different affect. The progression is an art form, the passage an art piece that acts like a mental palate cleanser: we are not the same person, nor have we the same mindset, when entering as a guest (though a welcoming door) or as a intruder (through a broken wall).

The duo also refers to Superstudio, the Italian architecture firm, using the small scale of their white, tiled and bent designs as telescopes to glance between rooms. Lowe and Freeman have created nostalgia for a world that never existed; that might be the strongest way to impact our imagination. As Justin told me: “The more you look, the more there is. It’s all there for you if you want to dig deep.”

by Alexandre Stipanovich