514 West 24th Street, Chelsea
This large show of young artists from two international port cities was put together by Dan Cameron, curator of both the 2003 Istanbul Biennial and the Prospect.2 Biennial, which opens on Saturday in New Orleans. His mix here seems less concerned with thematic coherence than with highlighting work he finds interesting, like Bruce Davenport Jr.’s annotated drawings of New Orleans marching bands, and Ali Kazma’s videos of office workers turned into machines.
It’s especially good to see a concentration of material by the activist-artist Skylar Fein, a New Yorker now living in New Orleans, who recently had a small solo show at the Brooklyn Museum. The most absorbing single entry, though, is a four-minute video by Hale Tenger, who lives and works in Istanbul. The video consists of a single image, the facade of the St. George Hotel in Beirut, in front of which the former prime minister of Lebanon, Rafik Hariri, was assassinated in 2005.
Ms. Tenger filmed the building after this event, in time-lapse sequences over two years, from 2005 to 2007, when the hotel was empty and undergoing renovation. We see no direct signs of violence, only a fixed grid of windows and balconies filling the screen. Yet the facade seems to come faintly to life as changes of daylight play over its surface and as white curtains, stirred by breezes, begin to move in the open windows with a kind of breathing rhythm. Set to a sweet score by the experimental musician Serdar Ateser, the hotel seems to be inhabited by ghosts, each waving to the street below before disappearing again. Beautiful.