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REVIEW: MSCHF’S “NO MORE TEARS, I’M LOVIN’ IT” EXHIBIT AT PERROTIN NY ADDRESSES THE ABSURDITIES OF SOCIETY

<em>MSCHF Drink Me 2022 Photograph by The Untitled Team<em>

Perrotin New York
NO MORE TEARS, I’M LOVIN’ IT
November 3rd – December 23rd, 2022

Brooklyn-based art collective MSCHF, whose aim is to expose the absurdity of society’s many systems – cultural, consumerist, celebrity, political, and financial – opened their solo exhibition, NO MORE TEARS, I’M LOVIN’ IT, at Perrotin New York on November 3rd, 2023. The exhibition is structured as an interactive strip mall that blurs the lines between commodity and fine art. MSCHF throws out the notion that art is to be studied carefully and seriously, as viewers open the doors to “Occupied Stall 1 (Piss)” and are greeted with none other than a second closed door and the sound of urination. The piece evokes Duchamp’s “Fountain” sculpture, and shatters every level of gatekeeping as viewers cackle in surprise at the noise. 

The inaccessibility of celebrity culture is called into question by a series of 10 phones mounted on a wall. The installation invites viewers try to crack the password that unlocks the phone numbers of The Weeknd, Jared Leto, Ashton Kutcher, BJ Novak, Kyle Lowry, Jamie Foxx, Ivanka Trump, Andre Iguodala, Grimes, and a slew of other massive names, held by these phones. The combination of personalities on this list is as absurd as the act of trying to attain their correspondence information as a viewer. Yet, the phones are placed by something that is perhaps even weirder: A vending machine entitled “Drink Me” (2022), which is stocked with 250 cans of seltzer containing 1P-LSD – a weaker version of the controlled substance. 32 drinks from this artwork would equate to one tablet of LSD, and these sit before the viewer in a commentary about the legal system. Notably, the substance immediately becomes illegal if it were to be consumed from the closed display. 

This sits beside “The Eavesdropper 1 (black)” (2022), which picks up snippets of visitors’ conversations and transcribes them in sharpie onto a scroll of paper. Also included is a series of swords composed of melted gun components obtained through a buyback program, Guns2Swords, that MSCHF is still holding. This metamorphosis of an incredibly violent instrument into another seems futile, but the art stands for itself as it stands on display, actively reducing the number of guns in the world. To add to the confusion, “This Foot Does Not Exist” is a GAN that sends AI-generated pictures of feet on demand, which can then be commissioned as paintings created in a factory. Full-sized paintings of this fetish hang with the pride of old masters next to a wall of shoes, including the “Wavy Baby,” a distorted version of a Vans shoe that the company once sued MSCHF for, leading them to produce more even variations from different companies.

<em>MSCHF Jennifer Lopez leaving Soho Dance LA and walking to a Rolls Royce Ghost on Cotner Ave on August 12 2022 at 208pm PDT 2022 Photograph by The Untitled Team<em>

“Jennifer Lopez leaving Soho Dance LA and walking to a Rolls Royce Ghost on Cotner Ave. on August 12, 2022, at 2:08pm PDT” is the work of six photographers who shot Jennifer Lopez from various angles, and from those, a 3D photogrammetry-generated model of the Lopez carved into marble. The absurdity of the exercise suggests the pointlessness of the paparazzi and the inability to piece together a real human being through snapshots on the street. This artwork sits near a artificial take on GameStop, “Chair Simulator Cabinet” (2022), where one can play a video game as an anthropomorphic chair, and “BTS in Battle” (2022), which allows users to perform Korea’s required two years of military service in just  a few minutes on a small screen as members of South Korean K-pop band BTS. 

Adding to the absurdity are the dots. “108 Spots” (2022) is a sliced Damian Hirst print purchased at market price, cut into individually framed squares, and then resold. “108 Spots” takes a series and expensive fine art print and subverts it into a joke, breaking it down before monetizing it again, giving it a new and redefined life in 108 smaller pieces. 

On the surface, the exhibition presents as an absurdist joke. But if one thinks deeply about the message behind any of these pieces – controlled substances sitting in cans behind glass that become illegal once consumed, a distorted marble statue of a woman created from paparazzi photos, a gameplay experience that puts one on the front lines of war, a feet-pics-on-demand service – there is a darker message underlying a show that first appears frivolous and fun. And this might be the genius behind MSCHF’s work. It can easily be brushed off as fleetingly “cool” and “edgy,” but the more sinister message that lies underneath demands that you don’t.

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