ICA artists ring in the new year

Andrew Witkin at LaMontagne, Douglas Weathersby at Judi Rotenberg
By EVAN J. GARZA  |  December 30, 2008

Douglas Weathersby, From ICA Installation Project, Installation View, 2003 (C-print, courtesy the artist and Judi Rotenberg Gallery)
If you feel you haven’t spent enough high-quality time with ANDREW WITKIN at the ICA’s Foster Prize exhibition (which closes March 1), or you just weren’t paying attention — fear not. Your second chance comes in the form of “OTHERS AMONG OTHERS,” his new solo show, which opens January 3 at LaMontagne Gallery in South Boston. Witkin’s unique brand of post-medium sculpture and installation continues with a number of works that meditate on the idiosyncratic and the personal, among them an installation of 143 white cotton T-shirts collected over a 14-year period and suspended horizontally from the gallery ceiling, each with printed text, and a shelf-like installation of 250 copies of a catalogue for artist Kate Shepherd.

Playing in the gallery through the show’s duration will be some 189 variations of “Stagolee” (also known as “Stagger Lee,” “Stacker Lee,” “Stack o’ Lee,” and so on), which was inspired by the 19th-century folk story of a man who got shot in a fight over a Stetson. There are more than 200 known versions of the song; it’s been performed by everyone from bluegrass idols Mississippi John Hurt and Big Bill Broonzy to Bert Jansch, Nick Cave, and the Clash. Witkin’s painstaking craftsmanship and ebullient sense of personal narrative — evident at the Foster Prize show — here has room to breathe in a much larger gallery space.

Also happy to confound viewers is DOUGLAS WEATHERSBY, another Foster Prize alum. (It was actually called the ICA Artist Prize back in 2003, when he won.) Weathersby’s artwork is almost indistinguishable from his day job as a one-man performance-art/professional-cleaning hybrid, Environmental Services (ES), which according to the Web site “brings the conceptual focus of art making to the many cleaning and repair projects offered for your home or place of work.” (No joke: he charges $35 an hour for cleaning, three hours minimum.) His first solo exhibition at Judi Rotenberg Gallery, “ESINAUGURAL RETROSPECTIVE AND STORAGE LOFT,” brings together documented images of previous projects and major installations, video, and new photographic work as it transforms the main gallery into an Environmental Services storage space. Weathersby’s work pits familiar objects and materials against their intended uses, subverting function in favor of æsthetics. Even dust and filth are displayed so as to make light of the mundane with imaginative precision.

 “ANDREW WITKIN: OTHERS AMONG OTHERS” at LaMontagne Gallery, 555 East Second Street, South Boston | January 3–February 14 | 617.464.4640 orwww.lamontagnegallery.com | “DOUGLAS WEATHERSBY: ES INAUGURAL RETROSPECTIVE AND STORAGE LOFT” at Judi Rotenberg Gallery, 130 Newbury St, Boston | January 8–February 1 | 617.437.1518 orwww.judrotenberg.com

Editor's Note: In a previous version of this article, the writer incorrectly dated the end of Andrew Witkin's exhibition at the ICA as January 4. It has been corrected above.

Related: Review: Andrew Witkin, Doug Weathersby, Rogues' gallery, Boys’ life, More more >
  Topics: Museum And Gallery , Nick Cave, Bert Jansch, Stagger Lee,  More more >
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