Michael Mahalchick

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Posted: 05/04/12
Duration: 9:45
Producer: Max Fierst
Views: 32855

It's not easy to characterize Michael Mahalchick's work, a sprawling project containing multitudes of forms and expression, including painting, collage, found-object assemblages that hang on the wall or stand on the floor, shamanistic performances and abject musical solos, as well as breakfast foodstuffs, cooking-as-performance, and olfactory sensations and sound- most recently, the smell of coffee - and bacon, the latter stapled to the wall, strip-by-strip, at the artist's latest exhibition and performance at Canada Gallery in New York, titled IT.

Rauschenberg the image-world and consumer-culture omnivore looms ancestrally over this work, along with the incantatory Joseph Beuys. This is an unlikely dual paternity, but Mahalchick manages convincingly to claim both. His objects and his performance seem to be driven by a common impulse to commune with, and talk back to, the consumer and pop spirits that rule over much of our lives, or more precisely the ghosts among them, the once-shiny products and pop culture icons from not that long ago that have decayed into garage-sale memento mori, obsolete phones, discarded toys, faded ads, anachronistic wheelchairs, soon-to-be-forgotten teen heartthrobs. Mahalchick's work evokes the inevitable nostalgia hard-wired in a culture on perpetual fast-forward, the stuff of youth, his youth and ours, that is either no longer around or on the last Ebay stretch to oblivion. Mahalchick treats these precarious concatenations of objects gently, even lovingly, as if they had been discarded too soon, and grants them a kind of absurdist afterlife. I'm not sure how the bacon and coffee fit in. Maybe it's the insistence of the here-and-now, jolting us awake from bittersweet dreams.

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