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Michael Elmgreen, Ingar Dragset,
Sorry Mama - Portrait of the artist as a young (homosexual) man, 2004,
Deutsche Bank Collection

Elmgreen and Dragset also analyze socially determined patterns of behavior. Their work documents to what extent those patterns are affected by a predominantly heterosexual culture. Their piece Sorry Mama – Portrait of the Artist as a Young (Homosexual) Man, currently at the Lobby Gallery, shows the artists as children. Written under the two black-and-white photos are the words "Sorry Mama". The work plays subtly with the norms and expectations every young gay man must confront. The Berlin-based Scandinavians undercut in an often-ironic way the parameters of recent art history, such as the loaded territory of the exhibition space and the myths of modernity attached to it. Powerless Structures is the name of their consecutively numbered series of works devoted to the White Cube that forcefully questions its meaning as a canonized presentation location. They load up the putatively neutral space with life and erotic tension by means of performative interventions.

Places that reflect recent history are at the center of video installations and photographs by the British twin sisters Jane and Louise Wilson. Stasi City (1997) was created in the former headquarters of the East German state security service. Video monitors, destroyed telephones, a paternoster and ceiling lamps lead a haunted life of their own in the empty rooms and bring to mind how quickly ideologies can become obsolete.

Claudia & Julia Müller, Untitled, from the "Europabilder" series, 1999
Deutsche Bank Collection

Whether it's children playing in the steaming effluent of a hydroelectric plant or a volcano in Las Vegas, Virginia Beahan and Laura McPhee's photos merge natural and artificial scenes. And while that may appear poetic at first glance, their work is really about the incursion of civilization into pristine environments. One of their works on display at the Lobby Gallery was created in 1990 on the hillsides of Mauna Kea, the highest mountain on Hawaii. The photo shows a collection basis for rainwater – an enormous foreign body dug into the idyllic mountain landscape.

Jake & Dinos Chapman
Little Red Riding Hood Holding Flower w/Spider, 2005
From the Etchasketchathon series

Perhaps it is because of the "double vision" that the uncanny and the surreal are nearly always present in this exhibition, whether it's in the fantastical Europa drawings by sister act Claudia and Julia Mueller or in the work of Brit Art stars Jake and Dinos Chapman. Their often-controversial works refer to Hieronymous Bosch, William Blake and Fransisco Goya, whose etchings Desastres de la Guerra (1863) the brothers recreated in three-dimensional plastic for their 1994 sculpture group Great Deeds Against the Dead. They've referenced Goya again for Double Visions. Inspired by Caprichos (1797), Goya's damnation of the bigotries of Spain's nobility and clergy, the Chapmans' series Etchasketchathon (2005) holds a mirror to an infantilized culture. Rendered in the styles of comics, picture books and greeting cards, their watercolored etchings show Little Red Riding Hood giving flowers to a hairy monster spider and creepy circus clowns getting ready to sexually abuse little boys. Childhood is a farce. In their typically cynical way, the Chapmans are trying to tell us that the world is a slaughterhouse in which innocence is inevitably lost. And if it is to be endured at all, then only with subversive humor and as a pair.

Virginia Beahan & Laura McPhee
Water catchment for livestock on the slopes of Mauna Kea, near Humu'ula, Hawaii, 1990
Courtesy Laurence Miller Gallery, New York

Double Vision
September 25 – December 28, 2007-11-15
Deutsche Bank Gallery
60 Wall Street
New York, NY 10005

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