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Jonah Freeman and Justin Lowe Present Their First

"Light Show" at the Ace Hotel

James Yeh, Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Photo: James Yeh.

On Monday, during the set-up of their new installation What's the Alternative at the Ace Hotel in New
York, artists Jonah Freeman and Justin Lowe were fine-tuning the lighting. I like this cross-fader
because it makes it look less like a nightclub," said Freeman about the overhead lights shining onto a
patterned mirror. He was standing about 15 feet away from the mirror with a look of contemplation.
Freeman mentions that this is their first light show."
Known for their dark and intricate environments referencing film and drug culture (their first
collaboration was a recreation of a meth lab), often presented as a series of shabby but precisely
arranged interconnected rooms that look like deserted sets, the collaborative duo ordinarily encourage
viewers to walk through and examine the spaces, taking in the torn walls and dirty couches at their
leisure. Here, however, the art duo are doing something different.

Using the extensive lighting system available at the Ace Hotel, they've programmed a lighting
sequence timed to direct the viewer's gaze, to try and suggest in a somewhat cinematic way what
someone should be looking at and for how long. It's a bit like making a visual-spatial-audio playlist.

The installation, which opens tonight with an invitation only performance by indie-rock band and
frequent Freeman and Lowe collaborators Psychic Ills, is connected to Paul Thomas Anderson's newly
released psychedelic surf-noir Inherent Vice, based on Thomas Pynchon's 2009 novel of the same

As preprogrammed lights fade in and out, spotlighting various works in green, purple, and yellow hues,
Lowe watches from one of two small benches in the center of the space. Every now and then he steals a
bite of his lunch, a chicken wrap he's brought down from the hotel restaurant. In the opened doorway of
what appears to be a supply closet, replete with stacks of folding chairs, a female mannequin sports a
Happy New Year tiara and a T-shirt with an airbrushed girl-on-girl scene, outlined in florescent, glow-
in-the-dark ink. On cue, blue-and-red lights wash over the mannequin and fog pours across its torso.

A vibey eight-minute track by Spacemen 3 plays on loop and Freeman makes a suggestion. This looks
good, but there's still some glare on these," he says, and the hotel's resident light-and-sound expert Ben
Bromley repositions an eight-foot-tall light stand into the corner. He adjusts the aperture over the light
focused on a magazine rack featuring editions of Artichoke Underground, Freeman and Lowe's
fictional alternate-universe fanzine.

Photo: James Yeh.

At one point during my visit, Lowe takes a call from the Marlborough Gallery, where the duo's most
recent work, Floating Chain (Hi-Res Toni), an homage to Italian architecture collective Superstudio
that comprised of rooms papered in psychedelic patterns and decked out with furnishings including
floral-printed chairs, a rotary telephones, and a toy flute, recently closed. Apparently, some of it was
still there, and it's causing something of a logjam. I think we should keep the books and dump the
rest," Lowe says, referring to their celebrated alternate-universe library. Freeman adds, Tell them we
also want the helmet."

When asked how the multidimensional nature of Inherent Vicethe Pynchon novel, the P. T.
Anderson comedy, and the soundtrack by Jonny Greenwood of Radioheadinformed the installation,
Lowe says it was a bit like British conceptual artist Liam Gillick's idea of parallel practice. He cites his
admiration for Pynchon's paranoid, overlapping, tangential narratives" and P. T. Anderson's work as a
whole. The pairing made sense," he says. I mean, I read the book. I saw the movie. But I was going
to do that anyway, you know?"

Though their work is related to the film, oddly, there are no recreations from the film or even any
allusions to it. The artists were obligated to sign a contract with Warner Brothers concerning any
materials that made a direct reference to the film. (If, for instance, they wanted to make a fake Inherent
Vice poster, the studio would need to be consulted. If the poster sold, the studio would likely receive a

There are, however, several preexisting nods to Pynchon. Three volumes on the bookshelf reference
Trystero, the secret underground postal-delivery service in Pynchon's novella Crying of Lot 49, and on
one of the covers of Artichoke Underground it reads: Thomas Pynchon interviewing Governor Ronald
Reagan." Freeman says this is an allusion to English science-fiction writer J. G. Ballard's controversial
1968 pamphlet Why I Want to Fuck Ronald Reagan.
We're finding the perfect choreography, which has to do with not only the duration of the lighting but
the order," says Lowe. We return to our conversation about novels and tangential narrativesPynchon,
yes, Lowe says, but also David Foster Wallace and Herman Melville, those chapters in Moby-Dick
devoted to the many uses of whale blubber, comparisons of different whale heads, a mini-treatise on
different cultures' views on whiteness." The plot is all the parts it's made of," he says. He may as well
be talking about his and Freeman's own work, too.
"Everything makes sense in hindsight."
Gesine Borcherdt
November 19 2014

In 2016, art collector Gil Bronners private museum will open in the run-down Dsseldorf district of
Flingern in what used to be a glass factory. Since Bronner began planning his museum, Flingern has
emerged as the citys most exciting art district, which is surprisingly fitting considering Bronners
collection itself was assembled without a master plan.

Photo: Stadt Dsseldorf

Mr. Bronner, you buy artworks by Matthias Bitzer, Bjrn Dahlem, Paule Hammer, Gregor Hildebrandt, Alicja
Kwade, Kris Martin, Tal R, Daniel Richter, Thomas Saraceno, David Shrigley, Johannes Wohnseifer: a colorful
mix. Are you not a fan of collecting according to a certain concept?

I used to think sometimes that I was doing something wrong if I didnt pursue a strategic path as would befit a
collector. But Im just not one to deliberate over my purchases. My main concern isnt whether an artist will
continue climbing a career ladder so that a work of art will later allow me to retire. Nor do I think that this line
of reasoning is true to the spirit of art. If you took that to an extreme, art would be regarded purely as a
commodity, as is the case today when artworks are flipped at auction. I consider this practice to be completely
reprehensible. However, I do of course think its good when art that I bought at an early stage later increases in
value. Its certainly disingenuous for other collectors to act as if this aspect does not interest them at all.

In 2016 you will open your own museum in Dsseldorf: 1,700 square meters in a former glass factory in the
Flingern district, within walking distance to new galleries and independent spaces. What will be shown there?

The idea is to showcase a continually changing permanent exhibition with works from my collection. A number
of artists will work on-site: Thomas Kiesewetter is currently creating a sculpture for the roof terrace. Andreas
Schmitten, who recently designed a bar for the Schmela Haus in Dsseldorf, is designing a site-specific work
for the caf. And the artist duo Justin Lower and Jonah Freeman are reconstructing their room installation
Artichoke Underground, which was shown at Art Unlimited in 2013

As a real estate developer, youve also opened up art sites for the city in the pastfor instance an old factory
and a bunker

Yes, in 2006 I purchased the former Leitz Werke factory building, where office file folders used to be
manufactured, in the Dsseldorf district of Reisholz. I installed ateliers for approximately 70 artists there, which
are now inexpensively rented out via the city of Dsseldorf. I also have my own exhibition space there, Philara,
which hosts approximately six shows a year, usually including artists from my collection, as well as new works,
which I often buy after the exhibition. Just recently we showed a wonderful series of collages by Johannes
Wohnseifer. The Youth Symphony Orchestra is relocating in the near future to the attic of the refurbished air-
raid bunker on Gather Wegthe lower floors contain almost 100 rehearsal studios, which the city rents out to
rock bands.

Johannes Wohnseifer Das 20. Jahrhundert, 2014 (exhibition view). Courtesy Sammlung Philara, photo: Maria Litwa
Was property development the reason why you became involved in art?

No, my parents also collected art, albeit mostly classic modernist works, in particular Georg Groszs works on
paper. So I grew up around art, but without any master plan. Hence I was a bit scattered when I later acquired
my first artworks: a gouache by Erich Heckel here, an oil painting by Miguel Angel Campano there: I was 35
years old when I first began to engage with contemporary art. In comparison, [Martin] Kippenberger, for
example, was streets ahead of me.

Your family history might at first encourage a grappling with the past.

Yes, my father was born in the Czech Republic in 1931. He spent the war in various hiding places there and in
Poland. Afterwards he moved to Israel to study, where he met my mother, who herself was born there. She first
went to Berlin at the end of the 1950s, in order to settle reparations for my fatherhe joined her later, and both
decided to remain in Germany. Then the Wall was built and my father found a position in Dsseldorf. He is an
architectand architects are often, well, art aficionados.

Now you yourself work with housesthough you studied business in Cologne.
Yes, I was in East Germany after the fall of the Berlin Wall and I learned about renovating old buildings. At
that point, of course, I also came into contact with the fields of art and creativity, chiefly because I was living in
Leipzig in the 1990s. At that time, a great deal of new things were happening in art, which fascinated me. Its a
clich, but the first painting I bought in 1998 as a collector of contemporary art was by Neo Rauch.

In Dsseldorf youll open your museum in a neighborhood thats somewhat run-down, which is precisely why
new galleries and art spaces find it so attractive.

That is correct. When I bought the old glass factory, however, that was not yet the case. It was coincidental that
it was located there of all places, whereas today the location appears sensible. Also, I originally had no plans to
construct a museum. When I finally decided to do it, I wanted to demolish everything and build anew. But then
I stood in these wonderful rooms and I resolved to preserve them to a greater extent. This decision will probably
lead to my ruinbut then, everyone has to go somehow. Then Linn Lhn moved her gallery to a neighboring
building, and Kadel Willborn, Max Mayer, as well as Van Horn opened around the corner. In the interim,
Flingern has become Dsseldorfs most exciting art district. Though I approached all of this with no real
strategy in place, everything makes sense in hindsight. (Translation: Sylee Gore)

Private Tour with Justin Lowe and Jonah Freeman
11 13 14

"Floating Chain (Hi-Res Toni)" is Jonah Freeman and Justin Lowe's latest exhibition up now at
Marlborough Chelsea. For their second show at Marlborough, the duo reappropriated the
gallery space and created a whole new world: half labyrinth, half initatic path. The exhibition
encapsulates different times and spaces, some intertwined, and directly linked to the show's
centerpiece: their video entitled "The Floating Chain."

Justin and Jonah took us for a private tour through all the different rooms of the show, which
runs through November 29th.
Jonah: You may or may not know about Superstudio... They were an Italian architecture collective
from the late 60s, early 70s. They had this idea called the continuous monument, which was a
theoretical concept for total organization. They reduced modernism to its most logical choices: systems
and rectilinear forms. People lived inside the houses. We appropriated that.

There seems to be a whole collection of Artichoke Magazines dispatched here and there. Are you
playing with memory and also from show to show?

Jonah: Theres a lot of self-referential repetition... It is something were definitely using. Objects
appear in each room, these mirrored ducks and rice sculptures. The books, the designs and titles have
changed, but weve been using books in a lot of the shows (almost all of them), by taking covers off of
existing books and turning those into collages. Its a bit of an uncanny experience -- did I see this
before? really triggering these manufactured memories.

Justin: and repeating motifs really.

There is also a sense of having access to different spaces and time?

Justin: It's a bit of deja-vu. You sort of see where youre eventually going to be, but by the time you get
there, you have forgotten where you actually saw yourself going. So there is a sense of a psychological
smoothie going on here [laughs].
Youve had pieces (objects that are part of the installations) stolen before?

Justin: Every show, yeah! Were really 'generous.'

Jonah: Or just really open.

Tell us about the centerpiece, your movie.

Jonah: [It is] One thing we wanted to bring in as a disruptive factor. We wanted the film to be one of
the first things you saw as opposed to it being the last thing, which I think is often the case.

Justin: You see the elements early on, that are eventually going to be in the movie. Theres one brief
section in the movie where theres this wallpaper and some of these props. Its another way to play
with time and order.

Jonah: I think were creating a sequence. A video installation is a pretty common context for an art
exhibition. So its [a way] to move out of that into something really dramatic. You come into the art
gallery and then it starts to digress into really extreme, different spaces.
Justin: I actually looked back to the show since we opened it, and its all been so crazy leading up to it
that I forget to really experience what its like. It feels good.

Mineral stones seem to be an important influence for you.

Jonah: These are sheetrocks, what you make walls out of. We were always breaking through walls, to
make a transition from one room to another. So this actually, in some way, is a picture of the wall break
through. The mirror represents the negative space, and then that represents the material. These works
are cactus crystal collages. As we were getting into the theme of the show, with Superstudio and this
idea of hypergeometry and reductive modernism, we got this dot pattern and [began] superimposing the
cactus crystal collage on the dot pattern.

Justin: And the dot pattern comes from the beginning of this book called Radical Interiors. This is
another one of these self-referential moves, bringing into the whole lexicon of the show.

How did you come across the idea of making a rice sculpture?

Justin: Well it started with the Punjabi Kitchen, that restaurant on the Lower East Side that we tried to
recreate. Cheap food, open all night. That was a section of the Artichoke Underground show in Basel,
Switzerland. (At Punjabi Kitchen they have all you can order by the number... One says "Ill take a
number 5," and its a certain rice dish. We thought why not just make some sculptures of those because
one, it would be kind of funny and two, kind of interesting. So this just evolved from there.

Architecture-wise, do you come with a plan?

Justin: Very much so. You have to be pretty specific.

Jonah: The content of each room can be evolving, but you have to create a genre and attitude towards
each interior.
Justin: Almost always theres some sort of interstitial space that acts as a transition between one
extreme room and another extreme room. Theres a bit of breathing area. We use this industrial
hallway as a bit of a motif. Its always sort of useful.

Jonah: This long list of potential titles for books is part of our ongoing archive. We have an ongoing
list of text and imagery and things were always pulling from. So we printed out the archive of lists and
titles. The inspiration for that was when you walk by makeshift construction sites and they have the
plexiglass that covers all the permits that says that theyre allowed to build and what theyre doing and
so in this case, being in this half built environment, these are de facto permits in a way.

Justin: A lot of this list is the result of drinking in Hollywood. You can see where the nights start to get
loose eventually [laughs]
Justin: Here are a lot of the props from the film. Here is a bit of a recreation of an East Los Angeles
swap meet where we would go to find inspiration.

Jonah: The silkscreen ended up being the image for the show, we never ended up using that work
before. I believe its based off world on a wire a science fiction movie that used to be a TV show. Its
about this parallel reality where you get into your gridspace and imagination-land.
How do you manage to give this feeling that there was a life in this cubicle?

Jonah: It gets really about display. Part of our inspiration for the swap meet was that there was cubicle
after cubicle giving massages or furniture or mattresses, and so this is the idea of a cube in which we
are selling a lifestyle.

Can we buy the cubicle?

Justin: I think its on the pricelist, yeah.

Did you design everything in this room?

Jonah: In general, you want to have a scale shift so it makes you more aware of the space as opposed to
a Chelsea gallery with 15 foot ceilings and youre moving through and its all kind of the same thing.
Here, were alternating both the apertures and light. In this case, it was based off of a hotel in Palm
Springs we went to. The hotel was a very wooded, dark, low ceilings, and they had a lot of psychedelic
art, whether it was Tom Wesselmann, or things from that era. Pictures of The Beatles, inverted colors,
a weird psychedelic steakhouse kind of vibe. Like you want to have a brandy and smoke. It seemed like
a good genre for a room. It was hung salon style, where things are kind of just placed around, which I
guess is kind of a restaurant move. This idea that we can take all the genres of work that were doing
and mix them up. It was a very open, airy hotel and then you go into this restaurant and it was very
dark. We had this nice scale shift.

Justin: The more you look, the more there is. Its all there for you if you want to dig deep. But there is a
certain flow to everything too which people get caught up in. They tend to move quickly, but its better
to spend a little time, certainly with the film. Theres a very durational aspect, with how long it is, its
very considered. There is a beginning and end despite it looping.
Does it lead us to someone or something, some sort of an answer? Are we at someones house?

Jonah: We want to make a narrative. There are different elements that might build this narrative, but
were not sure. It might be just visions. Were inbetween.

Justin: It's a bit of a dreamscape. Weve referred to it as a fever dream.

Jonah: Theres these paintings we did last summer at Willem de Koonings house. Three genres of

There is no character at all, youre focusing mostly on the objects and playing with the objects to try to
give more ambient feeling.

Jonah: Because we really wanted the film to be the central component. Theres a lot of content there, a
lot of narrative.
Justin: Its sort of the center of the cyclone and then it spins out. The further out you get, the more calm
it gets. This last room is really more meditative, very ambiguous, abstract paintings which are in fact
scans of liquor store bags. But theres [almost] something kind of beautiful and poetic about them.

Jonah: I think it's trying something different. We are known for making these really intense
environments. Now it is more: lets bring it into the object, shift the focus, a slow-bleed between the
two. The [intense] environment remains, but now you really get into the object.

Spreads: Courtesy the artists, Copyright Marlborough Chelsea, New York. Photo Credit Greg Kessler.

Naive fascinations

The 2014 Taipei Biennial, a must-see show curated by French scholar and
art theorist Nicolas Bourriaud, presents work by 52 artists from throughout
the globe

By David Frazier

Chu Chun-Teng, Aesops Bat No.1 Thailand Myna Bird, Sea Horse,
Frog (2014). Photo courtesy of TFAM

If you are a regular visitor to galleries and museums that show contemporary art, the question, So
we are now allowed to call this art? is implicit in much of what you see. As viewers, we have become
so jaded, and so overexposed to visual information, that we expect to see works that challenge our
expectations. When we see paintings, photographs, sculptures or even installations or videos, we are
quickly able to file them away into the correct mental categories, but at the same time, we may also
be thinking, That was interesting, but it was just a three-channel video. When art becomes too easy,
we are left wanting for that feeling of not quite understanding what we just saw. When viewing
contemporary art, this question of not knowing has become the real expectation. You could perhaps
call this a desire for naive fascination.

At the Taipei Biennial 2014, which opened last weekend at the Taipei Fine Arts Museum and is
curated by French scholar Nicolas Bourriaud, you will find that instances of naive fascination abound.
The exhibition contains works by 52 artists from every populated continent except Australia. Most of
them are young. Few are famous, though some Laure Prouvost, who won the 2013 Turner Prize,
Korean artist Yang Hae-gue, Belgian Peter Bruggenhout, Taiwans Peng Hung-chih ( ) and a
few others are reasonably well known in international art circles.
If most of the artists are not art stars, they are youthful, energetic and generally prefer an intuitive
approach to an intellectual or conceptual one. Some works are perhaps intentionally dumb, like
Nathan Mellorss video, Neanderthal Container (2014), of a person in a thrift-store neanderthal mask
who swears incoherently and several times gets thrown out of an airplane (without a parachute).
Other works are fiercely incisive, like the late Swedish artist Ola Pehrsons project Yucca Invest
Trading Plant (1999), in which a yucca plant plays the stock market via electrodes hooked up to a
computer. (After a month of actual trading, it didnt lose a dime, said biennial curator Bourriaud.)

As a group, the artworks include all sorts of arresting facets: a hot tub containing ceramic eels, fake
puddles made of plastic resin and garbage, video animations of a man throwing poo, a real dried
penis (it doesnt say whether or not its human), a video of bugs dipped in ink and perhaps dying as
they squirm across a sheet of paper, and wall plaques with quizzical inscriptions, like, Ideally here
would be the smell of the deep sea invading the room.

One of the most intriguing pieces is an installation accessed by a small door in the corner of a
second-floor gallery that looks like it was left open accidentally. It leads into an office with two
cubicles, where bookshelves are full of fake titles, presumably parodies of esoteric scholarship, such
as I Abhor All Trades, Shoulder Pads and Buzz Cuts and Phantasm du Jour. A door from the
back of this office leads to a sort of work space where it seems that exhibitions are prepared. If you
walk even deeper into this behind-the-scenes labyrinth, you will find a secret lounge. Its walls are
painted teal and it contains four operating massage chairs, terrariums, a fountain and Bollywood pin-
up posters. (I recommend the massage chairs.)

The installation is by American artists Jonah Freeman and Justin Lowe and titled The Floating Chain
(Fake Wall). A companion video installed on another floor of the museum, The Floating Chain repeats
imagery from the installation, interspersed with more visually rich, non-referential clips. In both works,
the experience is of making some kind of weird discovery, though of what youre not really sure.


As a curator, Bourriaud is known for a post-modern approach that views artworks as more than
simple objects. In 1998, he introduced the idea of relational aesthetics, which has gone on to
become one of the most compelling theories for art that relies on process, social interventions,
behaviors and interactivity forms that became widespread in the 1990s.

Bourriaud believes that artworks contain a dynamic that extends to both time and space. In the
1990s, he saw artists rejecting sculpture, painting and other objects because they were static forms
destined only for aesthetic consumption. As a revolt against commodification, artists turned to
relational forms including meetings, encounters, events ... and all manner of encounter.

Bourriaud is currently director of Frances top arts college, Ecole des Beaux-Artes in Paris. He has
also honed his curatorial skills at the highest level as co-founder and director of the Palais de
Tokyo in Paris, as a curator at Londons Tate Modern, and helming biennials at the Tate, in Moscow
and in Athens. He is the author of four books on art theory, including Relational Aesthetics,
Postproduction and his most recent, Radican.

For the 2014 Taipei Biennial, Bourriaud claimed he simply wanted to create an exhibition by installing
works in the museums galleries. In other words, there are no satellite events or works outside the
museum as in past Taipei Biennials. There are no actions that extend out into the community.
Nothing local is appropriated as art. There are no works that rely on documentation, or section
curators, or mini-museums as there were in 2012. The issue of Taiwanese identity is not addressed.
As odd as this may seem coming from the arch-proponent of relationality, the works in the current
biennial are for the most part the artists direct creations or connivances.

I thought it was interesting to differentiate completely from the previous one. Not as a criticism of it,
but just as a way to do something else, Bourriaud said.

I avoided this notion of identity, because we are actually addressing the question of mutating
identities, which I think is actually more relevant to the period of time we live in. We are more dealing
with what is it to be a human being in relation to machines, to plants, to the sea and so on, he said.

Bourriaud has titled the exhibition The Great Acceleration, referring to the accelerated change now
taking place in industrialization, technology and the earths environment. In his curators statement,
he asserts that the structure of the planet itself is being modified by humans and that the level of
automation is so intense that humans have become estranged from the earth itself and the physical
reality that surrounds us. The result is the collapse of the human scale, so that every individual is
reduced essentially to the data that constitute the major part of their presence in the economic

This theoretical statement, however, is meant to operate in parallel to the art, and not necessarily as
a way of interpreting it.

Art works are never here in my exhibitions to illustrate what I do, said Bouriaud.
Bourriaud claims that his own ideas are presented as a subtext that provide the potential for
dialogue with the artworks. His main interest, he says, is how the ideas bounce from one place to

And indeed they do. The 2014 Taipei Biennial is both conceptually rich and a experientially piquing.
As biennials go, it is a fantastic exhibition. And yet, as is true with so many contemporary exhibitions,
so little of the work is memorable.


To return to the question posed at the beginning of this article So we are now allowed to call this
art? the reality is that it is no longer a question, because the answer has become all too obvious.
If its in a museum, of course it is art. We no longer really ask ourselves, because we know we are
being told.

As the critic Keti Chukhrov recently observed, contemporary art now exists in a condition of hyper-
institutionalization, in which art practice itself is subsequent to the institution. In other words, the
museums and white-cube galleries now come before the art, and artists make work with the gallery
as its only intended destination.

How else could we imagine a work like The Floating Chain (Fake Wall)? In a broader sense, this kind
of question is opening up one of the key critiques of relational art. Relationality has certainly opened
up all kinds of diverse possibilities, but outside an institutional setting, how else could it exist?
Cointreau, Kyle DeWoody And Marlborough Chelsea
Present 'The Floating Chain' By Jonah Freeman And
Justin Lowe
By Ann Binlot
August 26, 2014

In a way, New York-based artists Jonah Freeman and Justin Lowe are like mad scientists,
known for concocting intricate installations viewers enter through human-size holes ripped
out of walls. Their environments are usually filled with imaginary products, found objects-
turned-sculptures and bizarre other world imagery. Last Saturday Freeman and Lowe, along
with Cointreau, Marlborough Chelsea, and Grey Area co-founder Kyle DeWoody presented a
sneak preview of their film The Floating Chain to an audience who included artist Lucien
Smith, designer Teddy Willoughby, and artist Robert Lazzarini at The Bridge in
Bridgehampton, New York.

Jonah Freeman, Kyle DeWoody and Justin Lowe (Carly

Viewers at the al fresco film screening made their own Cointreau cocktails while sitting atop
Grey Area blankets depicting a collage by Freeman and Lowe. Indie band Psychic Ills who
played at Freeman and Lowes 2008 exhibition, which consisted of their recreation of a meth
lab, at Ballroom Marfa in Texas provided a live score to the film. Theyre very generous,
said Lowe. They took the time, and watched the film, and responded to it.

Psychic Ills (Carly Erickson/

The film, which had been an idea of theirs for the past seven years, felt like an on-screen
version of their environments, a virtual mind trip that took viewers through shots of
everything from the sun, to fruit, to decadent ice cream sundaes, to old technology to a
montage of twins that included the ones found in old Doublemint Gum commercials. I think
the idea was to make a film that was really articulating the objectness of things, and the
connection through that, explained Freeman. It was associative, so it was meant to be where
you were connected through subject matter, so it was almost like typological in a way, so you
had fire, and some water, leads to water with pictures of women. Hamilton Morris read
random phrases like a real estate odyssey, group sex, and auctioneers fashion show. Its
all stuff that was written by him or us, and a lot of it was like the book talking titles, or the
narratives we have, and we wanted it to sort of be like disjunctive in this way, explained
Freeman. Its not completely connecting to the imagery.
Viewers watch The Floating Chain (Carly Erickson/

The two spent a month building sets across a 15,000-square-foot basement at Mana
Contemporary, an art space located in Jersey City, New Jersey, and shot the film over four
days. The initial idea of the whole film was that wed make all the rooms in a complete line
and then youd film the whole thing in one shot, but that just seemed more athletic than
actually necessary, and so we just did it in pieces, said Freeman.

And how did the two compare the film to their environments? With our installations we sort
of keep the set-like nature out of it, so you actually feel like youre moving through actual
places, and in the film, we actually articulate the set and make it clear, said Freeman.
Theres also a duration of how you walk through these things that you could finally do in a
way that isnt necessarily specific to actually going through it, added Lowe. Other people
could see elsewhere.

The final version of The Floating Chain will be played at the Taipei Biennial, which opens on
September 13 at the Taipei Fine Arts Museum, and in October at Marlborough Chelsea.
Freeman/Lowe, Art Ambassadors
By Scott Indrisek , October 23, 2013

The art world found plenty of weirdness when it descended on London for Frieze last weeklike Lili Reynaud-Dewar
laying in a bed that coughed up liquid black gunk while she read erotic literary passagesbut Thursday nights reception for
the artist duo Freeman/Lowe at the American ambassadors house definitely took things up a notch. The event was held
at Winfield House, the residence for Ambassador Barzun and his family located on the outer edge of Regents Park.
Freeman/Lowe had installed a new piece, SISTER MOIR, within the ground level of these elegant digs, generating a
nice cognitive dissonance between expensive period furniture and small rice sculptures of telephones or Chinatown-style
Beckoning Cats. (This bewildering effect was heightened by the fact that, when first approaching the palatial residence at
night, you couldnt help but feel like you were walking into the orgy-mansion from Eyes Wide Shut.)
SISTER MOIR provided an interesting counterpoint to Elmgreen & Dragsets slightly disappointing Tomorrow, a
concurrently open exhibition at the V&A that brought the imaginary domicile of an aging architect into the context of a
museum space. Freeman/Lowe imported their own fiction into an existing domestic space, complete with their signature
fake books, cactus-crystal hybrids, and abstract paintings on polished stainless steel. (All of the pieces will be donated to
the Speed Museum in Kentucky, which spotlights contemporary art, not NASCAR, despite its name and location.)
The evening included a solo performance from Jason Pierce (of Spaceman 3 and Spiritualized fame), who played an
ambient instrumental piece using guitar, piano, and a healthy number of effect pedals. And if this wasnt all weird
enoughthe ornate house redecorated by two guys formerly responsible for an installation based on an exploded meth
lab, the insanely attentive waitstaff, the fact that Freemans date seemed to be a cast member from the first season
ofGallery Girlsthere was a final cap to an already intriguing evening.
Ambassador Barzun, a boyish 42, stood up and thanked everyone for comingreminding them that the whole affair
wouldnt have gone down if the government hadnt lurched out of its shutdown that very morning. He then introduced a
final musical act, composed of members of Pink Martini and the Von Trapps. And so it was that the evening concluded
with the American ambassador himself, backed up by kin of the family immortalized in The Sound of Music, performing a
slightly shaky group rendition of Edelweiss. Who says the art world is predictable?
Asleep in the Cyclone

Sleep in art... New York-based artists Jonah Freeman and Justin Lowe have created a site-specific
sculptural installation that is also a functional hotel room.

Lower Level Suite

About the Exhibition

New York-based artists Jonah Freeman and Justin Lowe have created a site-specific sculptural installation that is also a functional
hotel room, offering 21c guests a completely immersive art experience. The work, called Asleep in the Cyclone, is an evolution of the
artists previous large-scale architectural collages, and extends their exploration of historical and narrative fictions, rogue science, and
the contemporary urban environment, based on the counter-cultural artists community from the mid-1960s known as Drop City.
Freeman and Lowe have transformed aspects of the Drop City design practice and philosophy to construct a room that exists in stark
contrast to its time and surroundings. Constructed entirely of re-purposed barn wood, custom textiles, original sculptures, and other
artworks, the room features a domed ceiling sculpture that recalls the geodesic designs of American architect Buckminster Fuller.
Multi-purpose furniture and surfaces designed by the artists are complemented with an antique writing desk, rocking chair, and record
player. A selection of records, chosen by Freeman and Lowe, is included, as are artist-designed blankets, linens, and other curated
components. A custom-built cabinet of curiosities includes collages, books, and small sculptures by the artists. Overnight
guests Asleep in the Cycloneor awake and lounging, listening to records, and otherwise exploring this immersive artwork, will
experience a parallel reality that inspires the senses. As British artist Liam Gillick writes, Freeman and Lowes multi-sensory work
reconnects the mind-blowing nature of wonder to the everyday experience.

Special amenities include:

o Record player and artists selected records
o Cabinet of curiosities featuring sculptures, books, and other works by Freeman and Lowe
o Rocking chair and antique writing desk
o Curated blankets and other linens

About the artists

Artist duo Jonah Freeman and Justin Lowe have been collaborating since 2007. Drawing on a series of historical and fictional
narratives, their large-scale spatial collages reimagine culture through subjects such as rogue science, psychedelic drugs, mega-
conventions, utopian communes, and hypertrophic urbanism. Asleep in the Cyclone is an evolution of the artists previous
installations Stray Light Grey (Marlborough, Chelsea, New York, 2012), Hello Meth Lab in the Sun (Marfa Ballroom, 2008), Black Acid
Coop(Deitch Projects, New York, 2010), and Bright White Underground (Country Club Gallery, Los Angeles, 2009). In 2013, Freeman
and Lowe were selected to create a site-specific installation at Art Basels Unlimited exhibition. LikeAsleep in the Cyclone, Artichoke
Underground continues Freeman and Lowes groundbreaking explorations of architecture as immersive sculpture.
Jonah Freeman was born in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and earned a BFA from New York Universitys Tisch School of the Arts. Justin
Lowe was born in Dayton, Ohio, and graduated from Amherst College, and earned an MFA from Columbia University in New York. The
artists live and work in New York City. Freeman and Lowe have been featured in the The New York Times, New York Magazine, The
New Yorker and more.

WHAT exactly is Gwyneth Paltrow afraid of Paltrow and Soffer, who is considered Miami roy- Soffer reportedly gave Paltrow a private tow
from Vanity Fair? Sources exclusively tell Page alty, owns the lavish Fontainebleau Hotel and re- the hotel, whiskiog her away in his Bentley, a
Six the glossy magazine might he digging deep- cently married EIle Macpherson. the following day, she joined him on his ya<
into her "friendship" with handsome Miami bil- One said, "Vanity Fair is asking ifGwyneth bad with Kate Hudson.
lionaire JefI"Solfer. an affilirwithJeffhack in 2008 when he reopened The Post also reported at the time that Marl
We fltSt revealed back in June that Gwynnie the Footainebleau. He flew her in for the party, and Paltrow had been on the rocks for montl
had warned friends not to talk to Vanity Fair, and she stayed at his house.' Paltrow has been Her rep explained back then. jeff Soffer il
which is workiog on a story about her. She e- married to Coldplay rocker Chris Martln since friend of Gwyneth." Neither Paltrow's nor S
mailed pals, "If you are asked for quotes or com- 2003. They have two kids, Moses and APPle. fus reps got hack to Page Six on Thursday.
ments, please decline." VF editor in chiefGray- Paltrow - who wore a revealing little white Other juicyVF topics could he Gwyoeth's OJ
don Carter this wecktold The Tunes of London, dress to the resort's reopeolng - sparked specu- falJing out with ex-best friend Madonna, I

Emily "We bave a very good writer and i(ll run."

Now we're told that researche'l on the story by
top VF writer Vanessa Grlgorladls have been
lation about her relationship with Soffer after she
attended a Victoria's Secret party there and "re--
mained closed off in a private section with Sof-
Goop transformation and her casting-<:ouch ,
perienees. She told Elle, "When I was starti
out. someone suggested that we fmisb a meeti

asking Miami society sources questions about

r-'lrll f'\l c:R T'OIt$ S ...... DICAT . .

fer; The Post reported at the time. in the bedroom. I left I was pretty shocked."

~ ~ , C!)"I.. 0 ~
Ian Mohr
Stephanie Smith
Mara Siegler

Rappers reunite
RAPPERS Drake and Future
bave managed to bury the hatchet
on their feud and will continue on
their tOut together. Page Six re-
ported this week that Drake de-
manded Futute he dropped from
his "Would You Like a Tour" tOut
kicking off Friday in Pittsburgh af-
ter Future was quoted as being
critical of Drake's music in a Bill- story. Future, who's
dating hot R&D singer Clara,then
threatened to sue Drake for trying
to dump him. But before their
beef blew up into a multimillion-
dollar court case. their managers
did their jobs and smoothed
things oveL On Thursday, Future
posted on his Twitter feed: "Back
in Atl getting ready for tOut ... lst
stop Pittsbwgh."

Counting sheep sea spot has proved just as crowd-

pleasing. The installation called
the project from gallerist Paul Kas-
min and developer Michael Shvo
WIDLE gas was a popular com- "Sheep Station" was scheduled for bave been Katie Holmes, le-
modity at the former Getty station slaughter this week, but has now onardo DiCaprio, Paul Mecart-
at 10th Avenue and 24th Slree~ the been extended to run until Nov. 24. Dey and SWlz.z Deal%. The flock of
art installation ofsheep at the Chel- Among those spotted stopping by sheep on a rolling green lawn are by
late sculptor Fran~is-Xavier La-
!anne. Shvo and Kasmln are further
A romance ofart and oil curating the exhibition "Les La-
!anne: The Poetry of Sculpture" at
FASHION and art wodd tongues are wagging that Carine llDlt- Sotheby's S2, set to launch Oct. 31.
feld's art dealer son Vladlmir Restoin-Roitfeld is dating Gop Ash-
kenazi, the Kazakhstan-bom oil baroness, designer and international Frieze heats up
Turn to acting? socialite. Thcy were pictured together Monday at Roitfeld's Milan ex-
hibition for painter Nicolas Pol at,cardi Black Box Gallery - where ART curator BrooIce IIarzuD -
Leo's main dish
MIRANDA Kerr (above) isseri- guests included Anna DelIo Russo and Barbara BerlusconI - and wife of US Ambassador to Britain LEONARDO DiCaprio (abov
ously talking about branching into earlier this monthata Paris patty for "Mademoiselle C," a new fllm on Matthew IIarzuD - hOsted a re- and his model gal pal 'lOo! Gan
acting. The supermodel wife ofQr. Roitfeld's mom. Ashkenazi, 33, a beautiful divorced mother ception to kick off London's Frieze were spotted on a date rolling up I
lando Bloom wasoverheard saying
at Stuart Weltzman and Gil(s bash
to celebrate the 20th anniversary of
oftwo, is knowo for her close friendship with Britain's
Prince Andrew and has been romantically linked
to oil billionaire Tlmur Kullbayev,ltaJian busi- _.-
_._Lo_ art fair Thursday at Wmfield House.
the ambassador's Regents Park
mansion. Artists Justin Lowe and
Merchants River House in Battel
Park for lunch Thesday on a
Bikes. Dicaprio was rumored to I
Weitzman's famed 5050 boot, "I am nessman F1avio Brlatore and, most recently, nowl JooahFreeman - ofgallery Mar- secretly dating Brazilian Kat 'lO
talking to acting agenrs." Kerr also Flat heir lapo EIkann. She bought the French , lborough Chelsea, whose installa- res after she said of "The Wolf,
revealed at Wednesday's event at fashioD label Vionoet last year. Roitfeld, 29, was tions bave included a re-creation Wall Streer star, "We have a pa
Neuebouse that she's met with previously in a relationship with fashion stylist of a destroyed meth lab - put in- that nothing can ever he said abo'
Weinstein Company president of Giovanna Battaglia. Soutces in Europe say teractive art in rooms throughout Out relationship." But sources clo'
TV Meryl Poster after guest-star- Ashkenazi's been openly talking about her and the home for guests including to Leo bave shot down her claims.
ring on "Project Runway: All Stars." VlarJimir. But a source close to Roitfeld was less 'lOm Ford, Dasha Zbukova, gaI- a publicity stunL "[He) met K
" Also there: Ollvla Palermo, Petra
Nemcova and Linda Vojtova.
enthusiastic, saying,"They're just friends." leris! Max Leva! and Ace Hotel
owner Alex Calderwood
once five months ago with TOI
They aren't dating," sniffed one P'
In a Dark, Dark Room
Leave the white gallery walls behind for an eerie trip back to the countercultural 60s. Its artdone differently.
By Isabel Wilkinson
June 12, 2013

Greg Kessler/Jonah Freeman and Justin Lowe-Courtesy of Marlborough Chelsea, New York

Walking between the sterile white booths at Art Basel, the four-day art fair that opened in Switzerland this week, you get used to looking at art
in a certain way: pieces are planted on the floor or hung from white plasterboard walls. Theyre lit from above by spotlights. You stand in front
of these pieces, walk around them, look into them.

But inside Art Unlimited, one of Basels satellite fairs, you first face an unassuming closet. The back wall of it has been blown out to reveal a
jagged hole not wider than a human body. You crawl through. Then, following a long hallway, youre led into a grim, low-ceilinged waiting
room, with linoleum floors and a window through which, if you look at a certain angle, you see a video of a clown sucking a rubber dildo.
Things are getting weird.

Then you walk into another roomthis one a print shop, with cans of chemicals stacked on paint-splattered wood floors. The walls are covered
with 60s magazines with cover lines that read Plants Invented Animals and Who Put the Yellow Pills in Gordons Gin? Theres also the
brain room, where plants are intertwined with crystals and hooked up by wires to machinesa space meant to evoke that decades
fascination with the study of plant consciousness. You get the feeling that the person who owns this eerie place has just departed: that the
printing press has just stopped whirring and the owner has left his paintbrushes in the sink. Its the kind of hair-raising, horror-film setup in
which the good guy sneaks into the killers house and sees the kettle boiling. Someone is lurking.
Daniel DiScala

Each installation by Justin Lowe and Jonah Freeman is marked by a similar dark trippiness.

Where the f--k are we? one art collector in a suit asked his companion as he ducked out of the dark print shop.

I think thats what were supposed to be wondering, his friend replied.

This is Artichoke Underground, a 10-room installation by the artists Jonah Freeman and Justin Lowea dark and fascinating rabbit hole in the
middle of a buzzing European art fair. Its more of an experience than an installation, with its own smells and sounds and feelings. In yet a
different room, the artists have re-created their favorite Punjabi restaurant on 1st Street and Avenue A in New Yorka little red room ringed
with tattered Bollywood posters and filled with the thick aroma of curry. Theres a walk-in freezer room, too, and a room whose walls are
covered in sandy crystal growth.

Artichoke Underground has its own smells and sounds and feelings.

Freeman and Lowe crafted this environment around the idea of a fictionalized, 1960s counterculture magazine called the Artichoke
Underground. Their protagonist is a Timothy Learylike figure named Dr. Arthur Cook, a psychiatrist who, they imagined, experimented with
group hallucinations and disseminated radical, leftist material. The artists say they were interested in the ways ideas spread at that time, and
how people started harnessing experimental tools for communication. As Freeman explains it, they were exploring the early ideas of the
Internet, a time when people started to take media into their own hands and create their own alternatives.

Artichoke Underground is the latest in a string of similar pieces by the duoeach installation marked with the teams dark, now-signature
trippiness. Their first piece, Hello Meth Lab in the Sun (which debuted at the Marfa Ballroom in Marfa, Texas, in 2008), sent viewers through a
decrepit apartment that had been converted into a fully functional meth lab. It was eerie, frightening, and perfectly prescient to our cultural
fascination with Breaking Bad. The piece was a hit and the art dealer Jeffrey Deitch asked the artists to create a version of it (which they
called Black Acid Co-op) at his gallery in New York the next year.

Jonah Freeman and Justin Lowe/Courtesy of Marlborough Chelsea, New York

Hello Meth Lab in the Sun opened in Marfa, Texas, in 2008.

Ive always admired artists who dont just make a work to hang on the wall, but who create an immersive experience, Deitch, now the director
of the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, tells Newsweek. Youre inside their artistic world. He says he was drawn to the great
feeling [they have] for sculpture, architecture, painting, collage, theater, political engagement, and sociology. Its an amazing combination of
insights and skills that is uniquely theirs.

In 2010, the artists staged Bright White Underground, a site-specific installation that transformed Hollywoods Modernist gem the Buck House
(designed by R.M. Schindler) into a happening: an invented group hallucination (and party) staged by Cook. The following year, they put on a
performance-art/fashion-show hybrid at the Hollywood Masonic Lodge in a piece they called Shadow Pool: A Natural History of the San San
International. I think from even our earliest shows, which put a meth lab next to a hippie commune [and] an Upper East Side museum, we
have been juxtaposing these kinds of environments and the kinds of groups that would inhabit these environments, says Freeman.

Jonah Freeman and Justin Lowe/Courtesy of Marlborough Chelsea, New York

Hello Meth Lab made an apartment into a functional lab.

In a place like Art Basela fast-paced locus for big-chip collectors to pick up major contemporary arta piece as labyrinthine and imaginative
(and not to mention unruly) asArtichoke Underground seems somehow out of place. But the artists gallery, Marlborough Gallery in New York,
says that the installation is purchasable in full form, and that smaller objects (like those plant-crystals) from within it are also for sale.

Breaking up the piece, however, would almost certainly strip it of its power. The excitement of experiencing this work comes from entering into
a narrative. There is a cinematic quality to it, and you feel the presence of fully formed characters lurking just off-screen. Says Deitch
of Artichoke Underground: There is a great depth, like you have in a novel or a very good filmits not just a one-liner ... You can get in and
read the story.
Take a Tour of Jonah Freeman and Justin
Lowes Labyrinthine Art Basel
By: Benjamin Sutton| June 12th, 2013

As we mentioned last Wednesday, the maze-making artist duo of Jonah Freeman and
Justin Lowe have created their latest disorienting installation in Art Basels Unlimited
section. Presented by Marlborough Chelsea and titled Artichoke Underground, it
centers around the printmaking lab of the same-named fictional artist collective, will all
type of adjoining, disjointed rooms leading fair-goers through the piece. For those of us
unable to attend the fair or lost deep inside the installation heres a handy
walkthrough of the Artichoke Underground.

A monumental-looking pile of clothes conceals a red-walled rooms with mirror-framed

openings looking back out onto the fair.
From the red room, visitors pass into the artist collectives studio, which is strewn with
prints, paintings, and art-making materials.
Facing the printing presses, a vitrine features a collection of strange objects sitting in a
lab-like space, with crystals growing out of them a frequent Freeman/Lowe trope.
Passing from the studio room, past the vitrine, visitors end up in a take-out restaurant.
(The installation also includes one of the pairs seemingly dust-covered rooms with walls
plastered with unspecified computer bits, above.)

The rear of the installation is a non-descript, walk-in freezer type of door, beckoning
adventurous fair-goers to step inside.
Artichoke Underground is on view in the Unlimited section of Art Basel in Basel
through Sunday

(Photos by Greg Kessler.)

Jonah Freeman ,and Justin Lowe
By: Jeffrey Kastner
December 2012

It's safe to say that no one will ever accuse Jonah Freeman and Justin Lowe of lacking ambition. Over the past six years,
the artist team has created (and, in a few cases, re-created) one madly elaborate environment after another, physically and
psychologically immersive spatial confections that have proliferated in museums, galleries, and other venues (a Miami
condo, a Schindler residence in Los Angeles) at a rate that belies the installations' material richness and technical
virtuosity. For all the work's heterogeneity-room after room is crammed with everyday objects both found and made, not
to mention the pair's own paintings, collages, sculptures, photographs, packaging and publication designs, and more-these
disorienting architectural mash-ups do propose a conceptual through line of sorts: They are spaces that metaphorically
investigate, and experientially enact, altered states of consciousness. Freeman and Lowe's evident pharmaceutical
fascinations- whether conjured, as in the past, via hardscrabble kitchen meth labs or the remains of glamorously louche
acid parties-might superficially read as bad-boy high jinks, but taken together they come into focus as the resonant
trappings of a certain kind of liberatory, ecstatic seeking, one in which drugs are a familiar, but hardly the only, means of
intoxication. Like their kinsmen in the international guild of hallucinatory master builders-Mike Nelson, Gregor
Schneider, Christoph Biichel-Freeman and Lowe work hard to balance verisimilitude and uncanny disjunction, and Stray
Light Grey, 2010-12, a warren of rooms, hallways, and staircases that colonized Marlborough Chelsea, calibrated the ratio
of rightness to wrongness with persuasive accuracy. Viewers fortunate enough to stumble upon a "historical" time-line
text that functioned as a kind of exegesis for the entire enterprise (but which was inconspicuously tucked inside a
newsprint zine rather quietly available at the gallery's front desk) would have found oblique clues as to what awaited them
once they passed into the main space of the installation. The backstory oscillates between the real and the fictional (and
resists abridgement), just like their insanely hybrid construction. But certain of its threads do prove useful in providing
some context for the show's often bafflingly free-floating imagery and data: among them, a definition of the title phrase
("stray light" is apparitional glare produced by defects in optical systems); the story of the metastasization of a nineteenth-
century exposition known as the San San International from a showcase for "poisonous plants and exotic animals" into,
depending on which paragraph you're reading, a convention center with more than 1,750 exhibitors taking part in trade
shows, art exhibitions, and hi-tech events, or a "metroplex" plagued by gang warfare and a drug trade involving any
number of psychotropic and/or technological medications; and the tale of Annabel Vale, a Los Angeles socialite who,
beginning in the 1950s, amassed a huge archive of material relating to subcultures and secret societies, which she stored in
a bohemian hotel built by her late husband and frequented by characters ranging from the French utopian Etienne Cabet to
Theodor Adorno, Max Ernst, and Thomas Mann. Starting in a gallery space featuring a small selection of the pair's
traditional artworks, the show's path took visitors through a series of obliquely related environments-a cluttered
storeroom; a crappy 1960s bathroom; an institutional hallway; an off-track betting parlor; a disused backroom
communications center; a plastic surgery clinic; a commercial shop that read as equal parts adult-video store and party-
supply emporium, stocked with queasy-making cakes, pinatas, and beach towels; a magisterial library lined with peculiar
counterfeit volumes; and an Art Deco foyer of sorts-before dumping them back out into a facelessly real exterior hallway.
Profusion is the organizing principle for Freeman and Lowe-if anything could be edited, it is their own conventional
artwork , here a mix of culptures, paintings, and collages further displayed in a separate, and rarher underwhelming,
conventional gallery show one floor up. Their deadpan invention ru1d repurpo ings of everything from signage, producrs,
and books ro kni kknack , furni rure and advenisemems accumulate in space as rhey do in rhc mind describing a narrative
environment thar transport it temporary inhabitants into a kind of phanrasmal dreamland where facriciry begins ro warp
and founder bur crudally, never give way ro mere mendacity. ln adlieving rhis, the ani t Ol'chestrare a wodd whose
artificiality is trangely instructive, even salutary-where the "real' i debunked a lirrle more than a convincing performance
of the sham, and the false is understood as not distinct from, but rather a clandestine species of, the true.




says Lowe, who at 36 is a year younger

''ALRIGHT, LET'S GET than Freeman. "If enough of a situation

is created, documentation is no problem. I
think we created quite a situation today."


scene, complete with hair, makeup, and
fashion stylists, a craft services table, and
a small army of interns, represents just

AROUND THE TABLE," one facet of Stray Light Grey, which refers
to the haze one sees right after looking
away from a bright light. It's a hallucinated
says artist Jonah Freeman, prompting beginnings of the Dadaist movement and light. Stray Light Grey will be the fifth
a procession of tux-clad gents and the concept of the hybridized identity- (and largest) in FreemanlLowe's series of
flapperized ladies to crowd a buffet cross-dressing, androgyny, and really the ever expanding multiroom environments,
teeming with plastic crustaceans, tropical first inklings of the man and machine which have incorporated secret societies
fruits, and flowers, all of which surround merger," Freeman explains. "One of the in Manhattan and Hollywood, meth labs,
his artistic collaborator, Justin Lowe, who main themes of this show is hybridized hippie communes, pirate radio stations,
lies recumbent on the table in a navy identities, spaces, environments, cities." It's off-track betting sites, pornography (print
pin-striped suit, black ascot, and werewolf Otto Dix meets cyberpunk, with Carnival- and video), Mexican swap meets, William
makeup. Assistants armed with spray going thugs "reenacting their colonial Gibson novels, modernist architecture,
adhesive apply tufts of hair to Lowe's oppressors at a ritualistic food banquet." uptown art galleries, Chinatown
hands and face. Freeman, in his uniform While the scene is a product of acting, pharmacies, Situationist psychogeography,
of black skinny jeans, black monk-strap the hedonism is quite real. Almost and homeopathic medicine. The duo's
shoes, and a black vintage rock T-shirt, everyone has been sloshing wine since the oeuvre constitutes an evolving, seeminglyI'
climbs onto the back of a horseshoe-shaped morning hours. Some may have physically limitless, and unified body of work,
booth, a fully kitted Canon in hand. (and psychically) entered a Temporary beginning with Hello Meth Lab in the
"Smoke'" he says. Autonomous Zone, those last remaining Sun, their now legendary 2008 debut
"Smoke," shouts photo assistant Steven pockets of pure, unadulterated freedom collaboration (with Alexandre Singh) at
Perilloux. described in Hakim Bey's titular text, a Ballroom Marfa, in Texas, and continuing
"Smoke," echoes Jhordan Dahl, a curator copy of which is sitting on a table beside with Hello Meth Lab with a View, 2008, at
who serves as the stylist, photo booker, Kanaval: Vodou, Politics and Revolution the Station, in Miami; Black Acid Co-Gp,
and general fixer for Freeman/Lowe, as on the Streets of Haiti. It isn't quite 2009, at the now defunct Deitch Projects, in
they're known professionally. Within Burning Man, but for many here it is a New York; and Bright White Underground,
seconds, a dense white fog creeps over the welcome reprieve from the strictures of the 2010, at Country Club Projects' temporary
shoulders of this utterly bizarre party at outside world. One belligerent groper has home at Rudolph Schindler's Buck House,
LA's Hemingway's Lounge. Owned by already been tossed from the set. in West Hollywood.
a collector of their work who also owns "Finally, something to eat," says a sash- "They're among a small group of artists
Grauman's Chinese Theatre, Hemingway's wearing Laurence Olivier look-alike as he who are really inventing something
is a Tinseltown facsimile of a salon from takes in the Lowe centerpiece. new," says Los Angeles Museum of
A Moveable Feast, only in this version, "Does he have rigor mortis?" asks a Contemporary Art director Jeffrey Deitch.
the next-door neighbor is the Roxbury, a crony, looking for a laugh. Not getting one, "It's a new form, and it's extending
bottle-service nightclub that seems to trade he bursts out, "He's got a crab on his balls." collage into a realm of performance and
on the Saturday Night Live parody of its Before things get too wild, Freeman, experience that I haven't seen before in
namesake. Nothing here is quite what it who has been shooting a series of group the visual arts."
appears to be-and that is exactly the point. portraits of the Bril.lees idiosyncratically Black Acid Co-Gp, which completely
Welcome to the scene behind the mugging for a page in art history, shouts transformed Deitch's former Wooster
mise-en-scene of the next Freeman/ over the crowd, "No horsing around-this Street gallery space, was larger and
Lowe installation extravaganza, Stray is a very somber moment. No smiles. more complicated than their previous
Light Grey, opening September 13 at All eyes on me." Then, motioning to installations. "We obliterate spaces, so
Marlborough Chelsea, in New York. photographer Donya Fiorentino, who's it doesn't really matter what was there
Today's tableau is meant to evoke a private playing a BrUlee, he asks, "Can you take before we got there," says Lowe.
club in Weimar-era Berlin, where three your arm off of him?" People returned to Black Acid
groups of characters-monocle-wearing, She reaches for Lowe again as Freeman repeatedly, spending hours there each
cigarette-holder-puffing aristos known as snaps pictures. Behind Freeman, Perilloux time, says Deitch, "the way you might go
Creme BrUlee; half-naked femmes fatales whisper-shouts, "Donya! Donya!" Looking to a theater, then go out for intermission,
clad in wire-and-circuitry bustiers and their at me plaintively, he explains, "Donya's then go back in. We were able to give
androgynous male counterparts, called petting the werewolf. She's a little drunk." them the platform to go all the way." For
the Dada Cyborg; and Haitian voodoo Dahl and prop stylist Sonja Kroop, the that show, FreemanlLowe firebombed
street gangsters capped with papier-mache artists' neighbors in Laurel Canyon, usher two trailers (outside city limits and with
animal masks, called the Shade-engage in members of the Dada Cyborg and of the a pyrotechnician, which wasn't the case
in a polyamorous bacchanal before an Shade for subsequent shots. Lowe shakes in Marfa, where they burned the trailer
industrialized war machine snuffs out off his rigor mortis, and Freeman disbands themselves with a Red Dragon torch
their pleasure palace. "You can think of the the group for a series of individual kit in the gallery's backyard), converted
Shade as the Hells Angels at a Leonard portraits with a stuffed wolf. "The idea the basement office into a Chinatown
Bernstein party," Freeman says. "It's this is to create a scenario so Jonah can get pharmacy, and enlisted the services of
hedonistic, nihilistic scenario." a reportage type of photography, but to production wizard Meghan Coleman, a
As for Weimar Berlin, "that was the do it in a way so it has a pageantry to it," former director of Deitch Projects who


played a pivotal role installing Michel summers, but mostly we would visit After getting kicked out of Vermont's
Gondry's sets for his movies Be Kind California." Despite his early introduction Putney School, Freeman enrolled in the
Rewind and The Science of Sleep in the to various artistic processes, Lowe didn't prestigious Walnut Hill School in Natick,
gallery. Now a freelance production fully comprehend the idea that he too Massachusetts, where his classmates
designer, she has rejoined the artists for could be a professional artist until he included artist Cheyney Thompson and
the Marlborough show. "On Black Acid Co- started frequenting Chelsea galleries musician Alex Waterman. "There were no
Op I was daunted and easily overwhelmed, while attending Hampshire College, in sports; it was just art, so you had classical
but having gone through that, it's easier for Amherst, Massachusetts. musicians and ballet dancers and studio
me to regiment this organism, which can Mter moving to New York for grad art and theater," he says. "When you're
grow like crazy," says Coleman. She seems school at Columbia, he worked as an art only around that, it becomes your reality."
to tread the line between construction handler for numerous galleries (Matthew He eventually graduated from NYU
foreman and movie producer, one now Marks, Lehmann Maupin, David Zwirner) film school but was more interested in
working with a six-figure budget. "My goal and artists (Jim Shaw, Mike Kelley, experimental cinema than commercial
in working for them, and what I keep in Rachel Feinstein) while bartending at filmmaking. In 2004, Freeman showed The
the back of my mind, is to do as much as dealer Gavin Brown's now defunct art Franklin Abraham, a 56-minute film shot
possible and think one step ahead so they world watering hole Passerby. At the inside Manhattan's Municipal Building,
don't have to worry about the logistics and bar, he was once tasked with running the at Andrew Kreps Gallery. "It was about a
can just continue to be artists." out-ofsync Leprechaun 2 video sequences building, the Franklin Abraham, that had
The Freeman/Lowe experience is for Kelley's "Better Than Nauman" show,
performative sculpture on steroids, laced which he likens to a "quadraphonic head
with acid. The trip, as it were, comes fuck." While these experiences helped
courtesy of embedded paintings, photos, order his own studio practice, it was the
postmodernist sculpture, faux commercial late installation artist Jason Rhoades who
items (backpacks, posters, cakes, left the biggest impression on Lowe.
psychotropic toiletries, books, flyers), "It was pretty awesome when Jason
custom wallpaper, mildewed ceiling tiles, came to town because everyone made
dumpster-scavenged bathtubs, scrap money," he says, recalling his work on
lumber, WASP-approved wainscoting, wall Rhoades's PeaRoeFoam installation, which
treatments replicating smoke and fire catalogued Kevin Costner's film oeuvre in
damage, manufactured astrological charts, 1,000 glass jars. The experience clearly
light tubes wrapped in sheet aluminum, had an effect, because the Drop City room
exposed insulation, slinky air vents, fabric- in Meth Lab-inspired by the mid-1960s
clad geodesic dome ceilings, crystallized artist commune in southern Colorado,
cacti, and taxidermy (wild and domestic). which also inspired the eponymous T.C.
"The sources get so deep I tend to forget Boyle novel-features a veritable tinker
them," says Freeman. It's exhaustive and library of jars cataloguing such mundane
exhausting. The audience is meant to be items as Christmas-tree ornaments,
disoriented by the decontextualized white social psych texts, and glue sticks. When
cubes and modernist houses, to feel the Rhoades ducked out of openings, Lowe
dissonance, hear the echo machine, and says, "I just hung out with him in the back
feel the distortion of the feedback. and talked about going to grad school and
While the two artists admit to taking him studying under Paul McCarthy. That
their share of drugs in the past, they seemed totally intriguing to me. I was
insist the installations aren't so much just trying to navigate a plan that wasn't
biographical as historical materialism duck-duck-goose." Lowe learned there was
meets materialist fiction. "It's a little too "value to hanging out and staying up late,"
complicated a project for us to be all flipped so he worked the crowd at Passerby and
out," jokes Lowe. "There are too many befriended other artists. Freeman met him
people involved to take off and come back while scouting locations for a film at the
later." Still, the work leaves you feeling graduate studio at Columbia.
altered and hungover, as if trapped in the
aftereffect of some drug. You may not be A SANTA FE, NEW MEXICO, NATIVE,
high, so to speak, but you are changed. "It Freeman was raised in Damariscotta,
sort of embeds this mind state, and people Maine (pop. 2,218), a tiny crabbing hamlet two million people in it, that was being
start to see the world in some ways as we've that was home to the late Hilton Kramer. built for 50 years and just added onto and
been seeing it," says Lowe. "And they start During that time, Freeman got turned added onto, this agglomeration of styles,"
to communicate back." At Deitch, some on to the 1980s graffiti, skate, and punk explains Freeman. "So I made this film, a
viewers went so far as to bring household scenes by visiting New York, riding the roving camera moving through the interior
'oz" items to add to the installation. subway, and trekking to the Guggenheim of this building, and you got a sense of the
and the Museum of Modern Art with his scale through this voyeuristic eye."
JUSTIN LOWE DIDN'T GROW UP BY THE design-obsessed father. "My dad brought Soon thereafter, he and Lowe each
train tracks, but he did spend a lot of me an airbrush, so I spray-painted my began working out of, and living in,
time on them, scavenging for his sculptor room," recalls Freeman, demurring when a communal loft space in Bushwick,
mother's assemblages. His half brothers, asked about his tag. "I wasn't good." Brooklyn, owned by artist Alexandre
actors Rob and Chad, were much older "That's why [LA artist] Nick [McGee] Singh. It was there that the three began
and spent most of their time making is airbrushing the cakes," jokes Lowe, swapping ideas for what would become
movies in Hollywood. Lowe remembers referring to the fake confections that will Hello Meth Lab.
them "coming to Dayton [Ohio] in the travel to Marlborough for the show. "I was listening to a lot of Neil Young


and misinterpreting the lyrics of 'Cowgirl the table, it's off to another hallway, this cataloguing process, which previously
in the Sand,' which became 'Hello Meth one meant to resemble those in Kowloon's resulted in a lot of work going to the dump.
Lab in the Sun,'" says Lowe. "It's just now leveled Walled City. It will be outfitted "I think the idea is to sell the installation
a stupid associative thing." Lowe had with pipes ripped from the old Acme as a whole, and it would be great for people
also been talking to the artist Andrea Sandblasting Co. on Great Jones Street, to commission rooms, but there's also a
Zittel, who'd suggested doing a project which currently doubles as Freeman/Lowe's way of bringing contained work into the
- .
on the meth culture down in Joshua Manhattan studio. In that studio they will installations [such as a large crystallized
- -

Tree, California, where she lives. He and shoot the fast-food porn video, with interns alligator with rock-crystal teeth] and being
able to create revenue that way. But it
I _
Freeman realized that the notion of cooking and friends simulating sex while dressed
applied not only to meth but also to the as parodies of Burger King and Ronald goes beyond just making installations
culinary revolution that sprang from the McDonald-type characters. into saleable objects," says Levai, who
hippie culture of the '60s. Within that Amid the maelstrom of Kowloon, anticipates a Deitch-level block party vibe
culture, they traced two strands of drug visitors will sneak a peek at a self- for the opening. "Ideally, we'd like to see
users: the transcendentally motivated contained crystallized pirate radio station; the next iteration of this installation in
idealists and the apocalyptic nihilists then it's up the stairs to a two-level, slat- Europe, so it's really a priority for us that
who would give birth to the meth scene. walled Chinatown bazaar/Mexican swap the installation be contained so it can travel
To complement a meth lab (which uses meet zone kitted out with caged booths to other places in the future."
readily available industrial products) and a hawking everything from custom rims
hippie commune (the rejection of industrial and fighting fish to strange Asian roots IN THE HILLS OF LAUREL CANYON,
society), the notion of an industrial complex and the Dean/Nago swag. There will also just up the street from the Chateau
became the third component that created, be cakes featuring airbrushed portraits Marmont, Freeman and Lowe have been
says Freeman, "a trinity of things in the of sci-fi baboons, Charles Manson, a blood living together for the past year and a
way they were linked in their historical diamond, and the cover of late Southern half in a house previously occupied by
and cultural context." humorist Lewis Grizzard's book It Wasn't porn star Sasha Grey. Over coffee and
Always Easy, But I Sure Had Fun. From cigarettes they expound on the logistics "
OF THE 5,000 PHOTOS SNAPPED AT there, it's down to the library, parts of of their collaborative process. "It's a
Hemingway's Lounge and Milk Studios which made its way into Marlborough's constant discussion," says Lowe. "I guess
the following day, maybe a few dozen Armory booth, overflowing with fake books it's probably like how the creatives in an
will make it into the exhibition. At Milk, exploring the depths of art (Modernist agency would work." The division oflabor
Freeman shot a series of Tiger Beat-style
portraits featuring two manufactured pop
stars, Agnes Nago and Spencer Dean,
posing with a bevy of new products such as
the DNA Recalibrator (motto: "Change Is
Now!") and Bioluminescence Elixir ("Light
Up the Night!"). The models portrayed EXPERIENCE IS PERFORMATIVE
icons such as Grace Jones in a sequined
jumpsuit; funk diva Betty Davis; the
bisexual drug addict and German cabaret.
legend Anita Berber, half naked with a
taxidermied monkey; American Psycho's
Patrick Bateman; a Lands' End poster boy;
and a magenta-mulleted Ziggy Stardust. Monsters), drugs (Black Magic Shabu), is such that Freeman works the computers
These will all become swag (backpacks, war (Kandy Korn Parade), metafiction (he's got two, to Lowe's one) and handles the
posters) and such propaganda items as (Martin Amis Presents: Honkies on graphic design and photography. Lowe gets
"news" photos in fictional broadsheets. Holiday), municipalities (Karmageddon!), his hands dirty with the physical process of
The Hemingway's images will end up in sex (Kamikaze Fun Machine), social silkscreening, cake painting, and the like.
the installation's final room, an Art Deco psychology (The Narrow Brain), religion The two make decisions by committee.
cabaret/museum called Villa Straylight, (The Religion of New Monsoon), and "We don't tend to disagree about what
named after the Tessier-Ashpool residence personal identity (Pam.Sam.Glam.Ram). we want in the end," says Freeman. "There
in William Gibson's Neuromancer. Things wind down in Villa Straylight might be some disagreements about how
"We want the first space you walk before one exits through the modern we get there along the way, but we don't
into to mimic the environment in the industrial lobby of the Chelsea Arts have divergent aesthetics or tastes."
neighborhood. So in Marfa, we did a Tower, which will undoubtedly take on Only time will tell whether Freeman/
country-doctor waiting area, and at Deitch a surreal, if anticlimactic, air. Lowe will remain in New York, where
we tried to do a Canal Street T-shirt shop Hopefully it won't be too anticlimactic, they will soon move to work on the show.
with the slat wall and fluorescent lighting," since the Marlborough show marks On a tour of the bougainvillea-ensconced
explains Freeman. "Because this one is the first time a New York gallery property, Lowe explains they never planned
in Chelsea, it's going to look like you're has represented the duo (Country on living in Los Angeles past the Bright
at an art show." From there, viewers will Club Projects represents them in Los White show. Peering over Laurel Canyon
flow through a double bathroom (literally Angeles), as well as the inauguration of Boulevard, he points out Jim Morrison's old
two bathrooms right next to each other) Marlborough Chelsea's programming "Love Street" chalet, wondering whether
emptying onto a dank, condensation- focused on more experiential multimedia they'll return to this funky live-work
ridden tenement hallway, dumping into a artists like Rashaad Newsome and scenario. And if their friends will still "love
mind-bending OTB site where wagers are Valerie Hegarty. In addition to selling us when we get back."
placed on novelty pastimes like fast-food individual prints, photos, and sculptures, "We're shaking things up, we're
pornography (which will be playing on the gallery director Max Levai wants to moving," he says. "These projects have a
in-house monitors). Once the bets are on streamline the artists' de-installation and way of changing your life."


Two artists turn a blue-chip Chelsea gallery into a junk-bin fantasyland.
By Carl Swanson Published Sep 2, 2012

Freeman and Lowe in the salt-encrusted pirate radio brain room at Marlborough Chelsea.
(Photo: Jason Nocito)

espite everything that crystal meth and hallucinogens have done for their careers, Jonah Freeman
and Justin Lowe are trying to kick their drug dependency. Installation artists who build intricate,
disorienting warrens of junk-filled rooms that feel like deserted movie sets, they became well known in the
crash years for their several squalid re-creations of meth labsdisturbingly fun dioramas of abjection. Its
what everyone focused on, says Lowe, 36. Albeit its just one component.

Hes not really complaining as he shows me around the busy build-out of street-level Marlborough Chelsea
gallery on West 25th Street. There, he and Freeman are turning a big, gleaming space that could be a
high-end auto-sales floor into a chopped-up hermetic underworld inspired by, among other things, the
science fiction of William Gibson, J.G. Ballard, and Philip K. Dick; Cold War history; wandering around
semi-gentrified Brooklyn and Los Angeles; and things theyve seen on YouTube. Theres an alternate-
universe version of an OTB parlor where the bets are taken on games involving fast food; a passageway
inspired by the famously haphazard and since-torn-down Hong Kong city-slum-organism Kowloon Walled
City; a room lined with salt-encrusted computer insides; a mahogany library full of renamed books; and
whats supposed to be a cheap outpatient plastic-surgery shop from a mall, some components of which
came from a closed veterinary office. Most of the navigation is through holes smashed through the new
drywall. Its like exploring an instant ruin. Itll be like some horrible event had happened and everyone
had to evacuate, explains Freeman, 37, as he shows me a passageway behind a bathtub.

Back in 2006, Freeman and Lowe shared a 7,000-square-foot live-work space in East Williamsburg, almost
in Bushwicka then-underpopulated area of low industrial warehouses Freeman always thought would be
a perfect place to stage a crime like a kidnapping. An NYU film graduate, Freeman grew up in Maine with
his parents, who owned an organic farm and sent him away to an arty school. His mother is an astrologer
(which is often referenced in their work). Unlike most of his fellow film students, he says he never had
Hollywood ambitions, and he became friends with Lowe while looking for places to shoot his experimental
movie about a city of 2million tucked inside a building. Lowe, who was born in Ohio and whose
half-brothers are the Hollywood actors Rob and Chad Lowe, was just finishing his M.F.A. at Columbia. One
of his works was a teenage hideaway with the entrance through an old van. Later he turned a gallery into a
bodega that connected to an ice-cream truck.

When an artist friend of theirs got back from Marfa, Texas (home to Donald Judds museum to himself), he
suggested that Freeman and Lowe concoct a proposal together for one of the smaller exhibition spaces
there, Ballroom Marfa. Working with their thenstudio mate Alexandre Singh, they cooked up the craziest
idea they could think of: a group of mysteriously abandoned rooms centering on two realistically untidy
meth labs, one of which had apparently accidentally blown up.

Hello Meth Lab in the Sun was an instant hit: They had a hoarders story to tell about the history of drugs in
America. It was also undeniably badass. Plus, coincidentally, it opened just after Breaking Bad came on, so
meth was in the air.

And still afterward, I didnt think that wed have a chance to do that again, says Lowe. Much less again
and again and again. Singh went off to do solo work, and for the last three years, its been a real buddy
flick, says Lowe.

Later in 2008, Freeman and Lowe installed a more refined version in a Miami condominium that was used
as temporary exhibition space during the Art Basel fair, renaming it Hello Meth Lab With a View. Jeffrey
Deitch, the L.A. MoCA director who then was still running his deftly attention-seeking gallery in New York,
saw it and had them do another version, this one called Black Acid Co-op. That was in 2009.

Next was Bright White Underground, which imagined an even more elaborate backstory. Set in a
well-known modernist house in L.A., it was presented as the abandoned, clues-filled home of one Dr.
Arthur Cook, a Timothy Learyish character who studied a psychedelic drug they named Marasa, after a
set of sacred twins in voodoo practice. (As it turns out, the house was owned by one of their friends
parents. Her dad came when it was not quite done, and it looked like the set for Sanford and Son. This
fucked-up junkyard, says Lowe. He said, You know Im a psychiatrist. And I deal with people who have
issues of loss and mistrust. And I feel like Ive lost my home, and I mistrust you.)

Another person who saw Meth Lab Miami and couldnt get it out of his head was a college student named
Max Levai, who was considering joining his family businesshis father, Pierre Levai, runs Marlborough,
which is known for its roster of not-so-edgy heavyweights like Fernando Botero, Dale Chihuly, and Tom
Otterness. Pierre agreed to hand the Chelsea operation to Max, so he could stock it with new young artists.
This show, Stray Light Grey (a Gibson reference), officially kicks off the new program.

You have a kind of tabula rasa situation but one which is very well funded, Lowe says of the Chelsea
arrangement. Levai says he wants to make a business out of the situation, selling entire rooms or pieces
from the rooms, or sculptures inspired by the installations, like
cast-metal cactuses encrusted in crystals. Another goal is to make
the installations collapsible and make them fit into a shipping
container, so you discard as little as possible.

But just because theres no meth lab this time doesnt mean its not a
drug experience, they tell me. Its really hard to see past the initial
drug thing, says Lowe. It isnt actually part of this installation,
really, right? He looks to Freeman, who agrees that its not in an
explicit way.

I mean, these things are always steeped in the pharmacopoeia. Its

become so pervasive that everyones on it, says Lowe, who is
obsessed with the secret history of CIA experimentations with LSD.
Theres this Brian Aldiss book Barefoot in the Head that imagines
a postwar Europe where hallucinogens were weaponized. The
entire culture is just constantly tripping.
The double bathroom in the motel hallway.
(Photo: Jason Nocito)
aimee walleston 09/10/12

In the three years since the artist team of Justin Lowe and Jonah Freeman have shown in New York, a lot has changed-not the least of which
being the shuttering, by New York City officials, of all government-run Off Track Betting (OTB) parlors in 2010. The artists, whose 2009 show at
Deitch Projects, "Black Acid Co-Op," featured an exploded crystal meth lab, have tapped OTBsstate-run facilities that allowed glassy-eyed
gamblers to bet on horse races in the middle of New York Cityfor a comeback of sorts. The gambling parlors play a starring role in the artist's
latest multi-roomed installation, titled "Stray Light Grey," which opens Sept. 16 at Marlborough Chelsea.


The team's newest installation aligns with their former work in its
devotion to realistic settings that morph into the hyper-real, and
eventually the fantastical. "Black Acid Co-Op," shown on Wooster
Street, began with a room that improvised a Canal Street cubbyhole
one might find a few blocks south; at its entrance, "Stray Light Grey"
appears to be just another blue chip Chelsea gallery exhibition. "With
all these projects, the way we like to design it is that you're starting off
with something that's not so dissimilar from the situation you might be
in. As you move through the rooms, there's this slow dissolve into
something otherworldly," says Freeman. "You'll have this sense of
familiarity, but a lot of the details switch to something else."

Freeman and Lowe have become well known for precisely this type of
immersive, locale-driven situation. In 2008, the duo, with artist
Alexandre Singh, showed "Hello Meth Lab in the Sun," the precursor to
"Black Acid Co-Op," at Ballroom Marfa-playing on the area's nascent
surge of crystal meth production. In 2010, the team created "Bright
White Underground" at the legendary Buck House in Los Angeles, which played on Southern California's culture of drug and psychology-based
mind expansion. This year's "Stray Light Gray" replicates a similarly seedy aspect of city life in New York.

"OTBs and check cashing places-those were very much the fabric of the New York city that I moved to," says Freeman, speaking to A.i.A.
during the construction of Stray Light Grey. The artist, who came to New York in the mid-nineties, cited location as a key jumping-off point for
each project. "Whenever we start to do the project, we always think about the place we're doing it. Here, we were trying to riff off of things that
may have been in this neighborhood, and have moved to obsolescence. But we're not making an exacting verisimilitude of an OTB. We're taking
OTBs and twisting them into our own world."

The project begins as one enters the gallery, the expansive main space having been subdivided into many smaller rooms. The first area has been
reconstructed as a dramatically smaller rendition of the full Marlborough gallery. The walls are hung with paintings and collage-teasers of sorts,
say the artists. "All of the artwork alludes, in a symbolic way, to what the viewer will later experience in the installation-sort of like a table of
contents," says Lowe. Rectilinear lens-like sculptures are set in the walls like peepholes, and allow viewers a glimpse of what lies behind them:
the installation proper. "The viewer might not be sure if these are a Duchampian trick [referring to the artist's 1946-1966 tant donns] or if there
really is a larger world behind them."
Things get progressively weirder, as normal rooms-an art storage backroom, a gallery bathroom-leading to far less expected ones, including the
OTB. While its dcor harkens the bygone OTBtraditional forest green walls, tickets strewn on the floorthe video monitors that usually display
horse races have been repurposed by the artists to display a bizarre video. Fast food characters including Grimace, the Burger King and Jared
from Subway are given new roles. "They're all engaged in this hilarious orgy," says Freeman. As stand-ins for racehorses, the characters
perform their own competition of sorts. Says Lowe, "We wanted to have something that kind of dislodges your normal expectations, and begins
to spark these little narrative flares."

One room is a futuristic plastic surgery center, where one could get a little lift with the casualness of a manicure. Another room mimics Hong
Kong's now-demolished Kowloon Walled City. The real "city" was a social and architectural triumph of will: a population of 50,000 people, many
of them ostracized from Hong Kong society, living and working in a makeshift development run by the Chinese mafia, wherein alleyways were
roofed and boarded to become interior hallways, and no legalized electrical or water system existed.

Throughout the labyrinth, the artists create associations between disparate rooms with two symbolic materials-crystals and cacti-which appear in
several sculptures and images throughout the installation. "We're thinking about alchemy in a modern context, and about matter that is believed to
have some sort of power outside of its materialness," says Freeman. "Crystals have an effect on the energy in their environment, and 80% of
cacti have a psychotropic effect on human beings." Within the exhibition, a "brain room" is covered in wall-to-wall electronics, which have been
coated in snowy salt crystals.

The final room is a virtual high church of crystal: an imagined museum devoted to art deco, with a crystal floor and extruded crystal lamps. The
anachronistic elegance of this room, set against the OTB and the Kowloon ghetto, is intentional, and part of the artists' quest for interconnection.
"In a number of the rooms, there's these opaque economic systems going on," says Freeman. "The idea was to get a range of systems, from art
to plastic surgery, celebrity to OTB. The project starts off highbrow-in the gallery-and ends highbrow."

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6/11/13 Art Review - 'Black Acid Co-op' - Meth and Its Dysfunction Portrayed at Deitch Projects Gallery -





Deitch Projects, the SoHo art gallery that often behaves like an alternative space, is at it again. That is, it
has suspended normal market-driven operations to stage a messy, experimental show that few other New
York institutions have the space, money or mindset to try.

Past efforts have included a skateboard bowl, Free Basin, designed by the artists collective Simparch,
that talented boarders turned into a perpetual-motion performance space; environments by the street
artists Barry McGee, Claire Rojas and Swoon; and Nest, a graffiti-and-shredded-telephone-book
installation by Dan Colen and Dash Snow, a New York artist who died this week.

Deitchs latest foray into the noncommercial is Black Acid Co-op, an immense, labor-intensive,
maniacally contrived walk-through environment. A warren of some dozen rooms, interiors and
passageways, it includes a burned-out home methamphetamine lab, a red-carpeted gallery of pseudo-
artworks and a hippie haven.

All told, visitors snake their way through evocations of some of the darker sides of American life,
especially its always evolving drug culture. In its own low-down, downtown, art-now way, this show
approaches the impact of the museum-quality Piero Manzoni retrospective and the Picasso extravaganza,
both orchestrated by the Gagosian Gallery in Chelsea this spring. If the art is not ultimately as
memorable, its sampling of dysfunction is.

Black Acid Co-op is part of the tradition of transformative environmental artworks that fill or otherwise
obliterate the spaces containing them. Among its points of origin are Plein (Full Up), from 1960, in
which the French artist Arman filled the Galerie Iris Clert in Paris with carefully sifted (nonorganic)
trash; the eerie environments redolent of communal Moscow apartments with which the Russian artist
Ilya Kabakov first made his name in the West in the 1980s; Jason Rhodess idiosyncratic massings of
objects and material goods; and Gregor Schneiders labyrinthine reconstruction of the interior of his
parents home, near Cologne, Germany, inside the German Pavilion at the 2001 Venice Biennale.

Black Acid Co-op is the work of the New York artists Jonah Freeman and Justin Lowe. It is the third
incarnation of Hello Meth Lab in the Sun, which opened last spring at Ballroom Marfa, a certified
alternative space in Marfa, Tex. The Marfa version, which I happened to see, was made by Mr. Freeman,
Mr. Lowe and Alexandre Singh, another New York artist.

The piece traveled to Miami Basel in December, where it was seen by many people, including Jeffrey
Deitch, the owner of Deitch Projects, who decided to bring it north. Along the way the title changed, some 1/3
6/11/13 Art Review - 'Black Acid Co-op' - Meth and Its Dysfunction Portrayed at Deitch Projects Gallery -

rooms were lost and others added, and Mr. Singh moved on to other projects. He is acknowledged in the
shows news release, which seems more than appropriate, since several of the best rooms in the piece are
largely as they were in Marfa.

Like Alices rabbit hole, Black Acid Co-op will take you as deep as you want to go, especially once you
recognize the careful attention to detail throughout this mammoth effort. Nothing is accidental. Its
disparate spaces sustain ever-closer readings and parsings, like a series of archaeological sites in
perpetual excavation, and there are frequent cross-references.

The room-by-room shifts in reality have been aptly compared to jump-cut scenes in a film, with each door
or more likely each hole in the wall introducing a different form of delusional retreat from the larger
world. The varieties of societal detachment wending through the piece are echoed in recurring
meditations on voyeurism, display and the remove of art and the museum.

The tour begins with an eye-blanching vision: a small, glaring white-on-white room where disheveled wigs
are displayed on white mannequin heads carelessly decorated with glitter and colored pebbles. Its a
disco-trophy-room-museum. Various other rooms and passageways are punctuated with wall vitrines.
Some are terrariums of mostly dead plants; one has a sequence of white forms resembling icebergs or
skyscrapers (one of Mr. Freemans favorite themes).

Despite the change of title, the heart of the piece here, as in Marfa, is the meth kitchen, crawling with
plastic tubes, jammed with glass jugs and beakers and littered with full and empty boxes of the over-the-
counter cold medicines that are chief among the ingredients of the drugs simple but dangerous recipe. In
a grim before and after, this kitchen is reached through a ghost of itself: the charred remains of another
lab in conjoined trailers destroyed by a meth-making explosion. (My favorite part is the melted toilet.)

This section of the piece amounts to a museum diorama about the meth scourge. As such, it resonates
with the recent documentary Food, Inc. and the just published Methland by Nick Reding, one of the
saddest books about this countrys recent travails. The movie and book connect the dots among Americas
agribusinesses, drug companies and global trade and problems like unhealthy diets, the destruction of
small farms and farming communities, and the meth epidemic that started in Southern California and
spread from there, especially devastating the Midwest.

On the far side of the meth kitchen is a library that might be the sanctuary of the Unabomber. The covers
have been torn off its hundreds of books, and new titles have been scrawled on their spines, each
seemingly a volume of one vast, downwardly spiraling treatise: Society Never Advances (Volume 544),
Here Is Punishment (Volume 64), Life Is Absent (Volume 494).

The wood-hewn hippie domicile part attic, part treehouse, part geodesic dome conjures up a more
innocent form of detachment and a more benign drug. Yet here youll find shelf upon shelf of large jars
filled with turgid liquids and strange manmade specimens; pages torn from books and magazines; a
telephone cord; chunks of pink insulation; a smiley face. They are presented as rare relics of another time.
A Chinatown shop where traditional herbal remedies are sold alongside illegal drugs offers glimpses of
another alternative economy. 2/3
6/11/13 Art Review - 'Black Acid Co-op' - Meth and Its Dysfunction Portrayed at Deitch Projects Gallery -

The red-carpeted art gallery suggests the diversions of a higher-income bracket, whose jaded, upper-class
denizens are seen in black-and-white staged photographs that dot the walls, often holding cactuses or
crystals in front of their faces. The mood is very Eyes Wide Shut.

In a sense the different realities of Black Acid Co-op seem on the verge of collapsing in upon themselves,
as the cross-references here imply. A stuffed coyote previously seen in a corner of the hippie domicile
reappears in one of the staged photographs in the pseudo-gallery, curled up on a divan between two bored
partygoers. The display also includes color photographs of meth paraphernalia.

The final and largest room of Black Acid Co-Op is nearly empty and semi-dark. There are a few strips of
filthy red carpet on the dusty floor. The walls, once enameled dark blue, are peeling so actively that they
suggest a thousand cuts, especially since the color beneath is red. Is the party over? Have all gone home,
or have they been massacred? Or has the whimpering world ended with a Big Bang of its own devising?
What we see, or cant quite see, is the vastness of space, a world where there is no world, where life,
having given up on itself, is absent.


This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: July 22, 2009

An art review on Saturday about Black Acid Co-op, an installation at the Deitch Projects gallery in Soho,
misstated the date of another installation in the same tradition of transformative environmental
artworks. That work, Gregor Schneiders reconstruction of the interior of his parents home, was erected
in the German Pavilion at the Venice Biennale in 2001, not 2006. (The Venice Biennale was not held in
2006; the event takes place in odd-numbered years.)


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Inside Art:
By Carol Vogel
July 29, 2010
The New York artists Jonah Freeman and Justin Lowe have been creating wild and creepy
installations rabbit-warren-like spaces in which they construct what appear to be burned-out
methamphetamine labs around the country, from SoHo to Marfa, Tex., and Miami Beach. With
each installation there are variations on this extravagantly dark side of America. And each intricate
environment started with essentially a blank slate, a characterless space.

But this fall the artists are taking their dystopic drug-addled scene into a bastion of high modernism.
From Sept. 17 through Oct. 30 they will be transforming Buck House, a 1934 L-shaped Rudolph
M. Schindler house on Eighth Street in Los Angeles, into what they are calling Bright White
Underground. The installation will create a story from both real and imagined history, loosely
based on the life of Dr. Arthur Cook, who lived in Buck House for a time and began his career as a
practitioner of LSD psychotherapy.

In the late 1950s he practiced psychiatry and later headed the C.I.A.-financed Pacific Psychiatric
Institute, which pioneered research into psychotropic compounds potential for social control. By the
early 1960s Cook was forced to work underground because of his controversial practices.

When Christian Strike, owner of the Country Club Gallery in Cincinnati, expanded to Los Angeles
and rented Buck House as gallery space last year, he decided to ask Mr. Freeman and Mr. Lowe to
create one of their environments. This house has so much history and context, Mr. Strike said by
telephone. And their work is so much about the environment and counterculture. The artists are
notorious for their projects that create faux environments, but here they have the chance to create
something in the context of a historic house.

Mr. Strike said the installation would be for sale, though he has not priced it yet. Another one,
Black Acid Co-op, which the artists showed at Deitch Projects in SoHo last summer, is sitting
in his Cincinnati storage space with a price tag of about $250,000. Were talking to an institution
about buying it or restaging it, Mr. Strike said.
A Marfa Dozen
Ever since 1972, when New Yorker Donald Judd picked up his minimalist canvases and sculptures and planted them
decisively in the unlikely town of Marfa, in West Texas, artists of all ages, origins, movements, and media have been
flocking to the area that is now a flourishing American art mecca. Vanity Fair takes a tour through the vital
contributions that 12 creative minds have brought to this desert melting pot at various points in its 40-year history as
an art destinationnames that bear a diversity of influence but nonetheless all bear one thing in common: a deep-
seated loyalty to the land and legacy Judd left behind.

By Lauren Christensen

Justin Lowe, Jonah Freeman, and Alexandre Singh

From April through August of 2008, three young artists came together to construct a radical examination of the
1960s counterculture (which, it is worth noting, of course pre-dates them all) through the subject of alchemy and
drugs. Hello Meth Lab in the Sun at the contemporary-art space Ballroom Marfa filled several gallery rooms with
stage-like, interior representations of three concepts: hippie utopianism, crystal meth, and modern industry. The
show, replete with gas masks, empty soda bottles, worn shag rugs, and open boxes of cold medicine, combined the
creative input of two current New Yorkers who had collaborated previously on a series of collagesSanta Feborn
Jonah Freeman and Justin Lowe, from Dayton, Ohioas well as the French-born British artist Alexandre Singh.
Each member of the trio roots his artistic endeavors in architecture but from a unique perspective: Freeman deals
mostly in the photographic and video arts, Lowe arranges whole environments and spaces for his installations, and
Singh fuses commonplace materials with industrial ones to build his structures, which often involve a performative
Everyone Into the Pool
By STEFFIE NELSON | November 11, 2011, 5:08 pm

Jonah Freeman and Justin Lowe, the brians behind Shadow Pool. Daniel Discala

Wednesday night, beneath an inverted five-pointed star hanging from the ceiling of the Masonic Lodge at the Hollywood Forever
Cemetery in Los Angeles, the artists Jonah Freeman and Justin Lowe presented Shadow Pool: A Natural History of the San San
International to a crowd of 350 that included Gus Van Sant and Jeffrey Deitch, who commissioned the piece for the Museum of
Contemporary Art. This multimedia extravaganza part slide show and lecture, part fashion show, part art installation, part rock
n roll freakout is the latest iteration of the fictional parallel universe the duo has been imagining and manifesting since 2008,
with installations at Ballroom Marfa, Deitch Projects, Miami Art Basel and Country Club at R.M. Schindlers Buck House in West
Hollywood, which they transformed into an artfully ravaged psychedelic laboratory, the onetime site of out-there experiments with
a drug called Marasa. Shadow Pool expands upon and then explodes this mythology, holding up the shards for our sensory
pleasure, and confusion.

Described by Lowe as a spectacle that eclipses a spectacle that eclipses a spectacle, the piece unfurls the narrative of the San San
International, the largest convention in the world, held at a monolithic convention center located between San Francisco and San
Diego (hence the name San San). Like a wild-haired professor seated on a throne onstage at the Masonic Lodge, Freeman explained
in a deadpan voice that the center had 13 floors, thousands of entrances, a lot of atriums, and that Lionel Richie and U2 had
performed there. So massive is the San San Metroplex that it has given rise to wildly stylish street gangs with names like the Shade,
Starchamber and the Fort, techno hippies represented here by Robert Redford, added Freeman, commenting on a slide. As footage
from old Doublemint gum commercials played on the screen, Jennifer Herrema and her new band Black Bananas settled into a heavy
psych-synth groove, giving a menacing air to the grinning, green-clad twins.

The music got louder, smoke filled the air, and models representing the various tribes began walking through the hall bearing artifacts
and relics. A woman in a lenticular dress carried a silver pigs head on a platter, presumably an homage to the yippie prank, and another
in a glittering black evening dress bore Rodarte shoes aloft. And they kept coming: Starchamber, vaguely Tibetan in robes and furs,
offering crystals; the Hindu Preppies, who wore garlands of marigolds and mehndi tattoos with their country club attire;
80s curators in jewel tones; savagely tan blondes in salt-encrusted prom dresses; a quartet in Lady Di wigs; and a group in
airbrushed pornographic T-shirts, carrying neon-colored frosted cakes. Some of the most hilarious and imaginative pieces were
caftans and hoods made from printed towels found on the Venice boardwalk and collaged together elephants grafted with sharks,
panther bodies with human heads.

It turns out somebody else was a fan: Jeffrey Deitch is going to wear one of them when he does his speech at the MOCA gala [on
Saturday night]! said Jhordan Dahl, who styled the fashion portion of the show with Katie Casey. The two women, whose last
collaboration was designing costumes for Jennifer Lopezs dancers, spent the past four months sewing, combing thrift stores,
borrowing from stylist friends and pulling from their own closets to create more than 100 pieces. They also cast the show, enlisting
pals like the actor Henry Hopper; the artists Brian Butler, Maximilla Lukacs and Alia Penner; and fellow designers like Brian Kim
and Michalyn Andrews. A mother and her two young sons were recruited at the Raymond Pettibon opening at Regen Projects, and
it didnt stop there: Dahls grandmother was in town, and, the designers recall, We were like, Wait a minute, put on this fake
Versace dress! It was like that scene in Clueless!

Relaxing with a glass of Champagne before heading to the Mandrake in Culver City, Lowe joked that the overall effect was like
youve been living in Topanga Canyon for three years and you just showed up at J.F.K. or Newark! For better or for worse.

Unfortunately Dahls grandmother wasnt available to comment; shed already left for the after-party.

At left, a mock poster for the San San Metroplex, a convention center so large, it straddles San Diego and San Francisco. At right, a poster for marasa drug
experiments. Courtesy of Shadow Pool
By Dan Duray 2/09 1:16pm

Marlborough Chelsea, the ever-expanding gallery that just nabbed a

new director in Pascal Spengemann, formerly of Taxter and
Spengemann, will mount shows with new artists Robert Lazzarini,
Jonah Freeman and Justin Lowe in 2012. The additions were
announced rather subtly, in an Artforum ad, which also noted the
representation of Rashaad Newsome, who had his first solo show with
the gallery this past October.

Both Mr. Lazzarini and Mr. Freeman and Mr. Lowe, an artist duo,
previously showed with Jeffrey Deitch, the downtown dealer who now
directs the Museum of Contemporary Art Los Angeles. We feel that
these additions to our roster provide a strong base as Pascal and I
further develop the gallery program with an eye towards 2013, gallery
owner Max Levai wrote in an email. He added:
Mr. Freeman and Mr. Lowe
(Photo courtesy of Robert, Rashaad and Freeman/Lowe have in common a dedication to their rigorous practices. Roberts sculptures are deeply rooted in
tracing their lineage back to Minimalism of the 1960s and the idea of
phenomenology as a part of the viewing experience. Freeman/Lowes ambitious fictional universes
explore alchemy in modern context while examining American counter culture. Rashaads
encompassing practice explores the evolution of language through pop culture.

The additions further distingush the gallerys Chelsea branch from its uptown counterpart on 57th Street.
The two galleries will have separate booths at the Armory fair next month.

topics: movements, jonah freeman, justin lowe, marlborough chelsea, robert lazzarini