Contributed by Sharon Butler / Theodore:Art has reopened its Bushwick space with a handsome and enigmatic show that reminds me of the series of Bruno Bischofberger ads that has occupied the back cover of every issue of Artforum since April 1987. As a painting student at Mass Art, I subscribed to the magazine on and off, when I could afford the hefty fee. With each issue, I puzzled over those enigmatic arrays of what looked like country life in the Alps and wondered whether the images were art. Were they the work of an obscure yet hip photographer, or documentation of some kind of performance? Perhaps they were meant to be sort of kitschy and absurd.
Living in Boston, I was keenly aware of being uninformed. In retrospect, so many years later, I realize that the experience of not-knowing – the very incongruity of the primitive folk-life images in an international art magazine – was exactly the point. So, I got it, without enough awareness to realize I was getting it. The work on view in “Unknown Unknowns” at Theodore:Art this summer seems acutely related. Like the Bischofberger ads, the mysterious narratives are about refusing to add up.
“Unknown Unknowns: Bill Albertini, Lisa Beck, Jeff Gibson, Juliette Losq, Chris Moss, Richard Paul, Jason Tomme. Theodore:Art, Bushwick, Brooklyn, NY. Through August 2, 2020. To help curtail the spread of the COVID-19 virus, the gallery will be open during regular hours but with limited visitors at any given time.