Tue. Jun 6th, 2023

Marc Kokopeli’s exhibition “Meeting people is easy”—the latest in his post–Pop art deployments—offers a boutique jouissance: Four slick polyethylene pedestals prop up seven orange leather-bound photo albums filled with AI-authored C-prints; a pair of custom-made replicas of Andy Warhol’s girdle; and Skullcandy headphones playing Radiohead’s full 1997 album, OK Computer.

Collected together in the central installation, Of Seven, Fitter Happier, and Brigid’s Girdle, 2022, these elements foreground a range of frustrations in contemporary serial production. Employing algorithms that convert text into hyperaccurate images, Kokopeli used the prompt “A photograph of a baby riding a motorcycle made out of diapers in SoHo” to generate photorealist compositions of soft vehicles and mummified toddlers popping wheelies and blazing away into the metropolis. For all their droll humor, the resulting prints are eerie, mystifying, and even concerning, leading one to speculate on the divide between reality and artifice, as well as on the artist’s recent work with child development. Adjacent to these albums rest copies of Warhol’s girdle that serve as reminders of our impermanence. Nothing impedes the viewer from trying one on while flipping through the images.

The exhibition limns a way of liberal thinking—you can have your cake and eat it too—that, to some degree, is here tongue in cheek. Amplifying the demented distortion found in OK Computer, the artist critiques the unyielding teenage fantasy of being a machine. By implying that not much else has progressed past the sentiments of a certain era, Kokopeli evokes nostalgia, tightening, constraint, and reduction simultaneously.

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