“Factory Reset” by Eric Yahnker
Nov 15 – Dec 23, 2018
The Hole NYC
What can artmaking today achieve against such an all-encompassing visual foe? The pieces in Eric Yahnker’s “Factory Reset” look at both – how we got here and urgently ask how do we get the hell out of here? As has always been the case for Yahnker, his subject matters are visibly uncomfortable.
Showing at The Hole NYC for his third solo exhibition, Eric Yahnker has elaborated in pastel across large swaths of sandpaper a vision of America today and a culture in need of a “factory reset”, erasing all content and settings, wiping the memory, rebooting the corrupted system. For an artist who spent a decade exhausting his fingers with a million thin colored pencil and graphite marks, he is now scraping them off by blending on sandpaper.
Yahnker can work quicker and more loosely and doesn’t have to layer fine lines over each other. He can smear in some shadow and splash on the highlights, leave a sketchy edge or smooth subtle gradients. His quick mind can now be drawn out through quick execution.
Yahnker’s subjects are never at ease. Even what looks like a purely uplifting and positive image can have layers of problematization that can sit funny to a viewer even when you’re not sure why. A lot of visual signifiers go into each of these careful image puzzles, and every decision counts. The audio guide for the show will let the artist describe in his own voice some of the layers of thinking to take you down the rabbit hole of each piece should you so choose.
Gallery 3 is dedicated to a single piece: a series of 29 pastel works that in order comprise sequential frames of an animation. “Orange Privilege” is then a hybrid drawing and video piece where each frame of a clip, from the blurry transitional frames to the sharper focus I-frames, retains some digital video artifacts and crunchy bits of erratic color. The scene it captures is only 3 seconds long but deeply disturbing; Donald Trump bear-hugs the American flag with an insipid grin on his face above a throng of eager reporters.