GABRIEL COHEN: FIRST SEPARATION MEDITATION
June 23 - July 21, 2019
Opening: Sunday, June 23rd, 7-10 pm
Press: Artillery Magazine
First Separation Meditation
Gabe asked me what I thought and I said, “Well, the bird’s in the middle of the picture, and the picture’s in the middle of the frame.” We laughed, but he wanted more. I started rambling in a faux-serious put-on about formalities and feathers and feelings until I hit a point in which I couldn’t keep up the charade, right around when I said “bullseyes.” Couldn’t keep it up, not because I was bored of it, but because the ‘just-go-for-it’ joking tone had landed on something real and serious, denying an opening for easy laughter. As I think, now, about bullseyes, it occurs to me that that moment of pause—when a ‘haha just go for it, just try it, why not?’ turns into something serious—seems to be an important moment in Gabe’s general practice. A new material, image, song, text, or — in this case — space, leads to an impulsive attempt at making. “Wouldn’t it be goofy?” “What if I just put that there?” And so on. But “goofy” thoughts let you make new decisions, many of which are bad, of course, but some of which make you pause, reconsider, and ask you to look at the seriousness that has trojan-horsed through.
But, back to bullseyes (our central point — haha). The bird, I decided, was in the middle of the picture, in the middle of the frame; central in the way a bullseye is central—where hitting (or looking at) the middle is preparing for death, just as looking at the image of a dead bird (pulled out of the steel shelf of a flat file, morgue-like even) makes you think on your own death, if you let the goofy incongruity of a massive frame become the seriousness of a massive frame; calling attention to the bird in the middle of the image—Look at me! There is something here!
We talked more about bullseyes and guns and death (Gabe talks, thinks, and makes a lot about death — it need not be a morbid subject). We talked about school shootings and the preparation that goes into them (always more than necessary, more guns than anyone could carry, more bullets than one could ever shoot, so on). A book on mass shootings, Why not kill them all?, had been floating around the studio; last night I got off the metro and there was an ad for “Active Shooter Insurance;” we were turning around in the movie theater. I was thinking about birds. Gabe made me think about birds. And now I am thinking about a dead bird, in the middle of a picture, in the middle of a frame, inside of a flat file and the saddest thought is that the bird’s death was almost certainly not from anything exciting, anything that would put your name in the papers. The bird probably had a heart attack. Birds have heart attacks all the time. They fall mid-flight and land on a sidewalk for you to see and for you to think about.
There are four other images, in four other flat-file morgue-drawers, inside of a wall, inside of Queens LA, and you can see them from June 23 - July 21, 2019, but someone else has to write those autopsies.
Exhibition text by Ivan Rios-Fetchko
Gabriel Cohen is an artist, author, and curator based in Los Angeles, CA. His work had been exhibited nationally including group and solo presentations with The RISD Museum (Providence), Kings Leap (NY), In Lieu (LA), New Works (Chicago), White Columns (NY) and ADDS DONNA (Chicago). His writing has been published by UCLA’s Graphite Journal, supported by a reading at the Hammer Museum (Los Angeles), the Helsinki based WNTT Magazine, and Artemis Journal which is supported by The Taubman Museum of Art (Roanoke).