Anton Vidokle
Massimo Audiello Gallery
526 W. 26 Street
#519 New York, NY 10001

by Pedro Velez

< Untitled, (green), 2001 welded steel,
car lacquer 33x 33 x 5 in (ed. of 2) AV-1069




Corporate logos can be minimalism's best friend as well as carriers of subtle utopian messages. Just think of that happy feeling when the Twentieth Century Fox logo shows up on the silver screen. It might be a stretch to imagine a logo as a sign of hope, but the happiness derived from the logo's appearance comes from our expectations and desires that the movie will be all we want it to be.

Anton Vidokle's designs, like the Twentieth Century Fox logo, deal with utopian aspirations in a very loose way, and I mean loose. In the show's press release, Joshua Decter states that Vidokle's work "references private and corporate logotypes, printed matter, architecture and public sculpture produced in Mexico City during the 1970s and early 80s, examining an amalgam of utopian, progressive aspirations and minimalism/modernism as it manifests in design." This academic blurb sounds like it should be attributed to the work of Gabriel Orozco or Jesus Rafael Soto rather than Vidokle's dry conceptual pieces. What Vidokle does accomplish is an evocation of nostalgia without the cheesy and clichéd allegorical narratives that usually go with it--the same nostalgia to be had from the Twentieth Century logo. At that cultural level--popular and not academic--Vidokle's work triumphs.

Among Vidokle's tricks is his effective use of scale: his wall reliefs and industrial carpets lack the monumentality and machismo usually found in corporate logos. Vidokle also avoids loading the structures with allegorical titles and achieves his historical references through the use of "retro" colors. In a wall relief, Untitled (green), all 2001, a Chevron-like logo sports a color of green more suited to a restaurant than a gas company. In Untitled (horizontal), made of welded steel and car lacquer, four aerodynamic stripes bring to mind the detailing on Starsky and Hutch's car. The colors--purple, orange, red, and yellow--resemble a future archeological dig at Old Navy. The kitsch of Space Age aspirations is also evoked in Untitled (grey), a hexagonal welded-steel structure straight out of a James Bond film circa 1960.

The most successful pieces in the show, however, are Vidokle's industrial carpets. The carpets, black with red, orange, yellow, and purple stripes which meet in the carpet's center and explode into a rainbow, slicing the surface into four sections, comment on the failed Latin American economy: now anyone can literally and metaphorically step on and dirty it. The only problem with this piece is the excessive price and short edition. It would be more interesting to look at these carpets outside of the white cube, as, say, part of Target's inventory. After all, Vidokle's utopia, like Daniel Pflumm's or Henrik Plenge Jakobsen's, is a failed one, yet slick and heavy on design. More style than substance. So why not give hope away for cheap? Revitalizing lost hope may be the only good that art can do for now, and that is a good thing.