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Sometimes trying to define the line between “is” and “is not,” is like trying to build a house out of pudding: despite all your efforts, you can never firmly grasp the materials. Curiosity filled the air at the opening of “Slip” at Mitchell-Innes & Nash on June 12, as visitors leaned into the starkly minimal pieces on the walls and floor. Whisperings of excited, “Is it real? No. Maybe. I think it’s real!” and the elongated Os of realization buzzed between bodies while they worked to figure things out. The intention of “Slip,” however, is to complicate precisely that experience.
Through the works of the seven contemporary artists included in the show, viewers remain in a cycling state of uncertainty and discovery. The implications of the works expand with each piece of information gained: at first glance Brock Enright’s column of sculptures on the wall look like gaudy, yonic butterflies. Upon closer inspection and with the help of the checklist, we learn they are Doritos chips covered in resin and glitter, abruptly ousting the jewel-like objects as frauds. In the back gallery, Michael E. Smith’s Untitled (2014) looks like a deteriorating mummified cat, and the checklist confirms it as such. Still, Smith’s point blank presentation made it hard to believe. There had to be something more. Contrastingly vibrant and large, Alex Da Corte’s, Star Trap (With Bird of Paradise) (2014) utilizes tropes of the exotic—a Persian rug, a bird of paradise—to create a cartoonish trap, but for whom?
Like a strip tease, minimal art must seduce the viewer. But the audience is usually impatient and fickle, and will loose interest if they are not given enough to keep them enticed. The works in “Slip” walk the fine line of the enigmatic and the ostracizing, challenging viewers to reconsider their notions of how something is defined and strive to learn more.
“Slip” is on view at Mitchell-Innes & Nash in New York through July 25.