David Hammons Taunts the Art World

Rachel Wetzler at Art in America:

The difficulty of Hammons’s work is that it seems to preempt any possible critical response and offer up an implicit rebuttal. This was most evident in the centerpiece of the show, a grid of tents pitched in the gallery’s interior courtyard, which is located between the entrance to the gallery’s chic, industrial compound and the exhibition spaces. Each tent bore a stenciled threat: this could be u. My first reaction was dismissive; the installation seemed too obvious, too lazily reliant on a contextual friction that was intended to point to a larger one, since the gallery—a sign of advanced gentrification if ever there was one—sits just a few blocks from the homeless encampments of Skid Row. OK, we’re all complicit: now what?

But the installation posed a problem for would-be visitors: to walk right by the piece en route to the exhibition would reproduce a kind of everyday callousness; to solemnly admire it would be perverse and self-congratulatory; and to feel offended by its hypocrisy or aestheticization of a social crisis would be equally so: imagine being preoccupied by the dubious politics of an artwork about homelessness when there’s a real tent city down the street—care about that instead. 

more here.