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The Arbitrariness of Signs


“I saw the sign and it opened up my eyes and I am happy now …”. Many readers will rehear the pervasive pop ditty from the 90’s; a song sure to conjure recollections of time and place as varied as those who recognize it.

It is this sort of universal identification paired with personal recall and association that is at the heart of “The Arbitrariness of Signs”, on view at Momenta Art (359 Bedford Ave) through April 19th. With contributions from 15 artists, the show manages to be both plentiful and playful, successfully fulfilling the promise of guest curator Sara Reismans experimental accompanying text.

The consummate Reisman encourages us to “receive the artworks according to your personal visual languages and codes”. The adoption of this suggestion is where the show and the fun really begin.

First stop on this odyssey of symbol would be Nina Lola Bachhubers ‘Mute Orchestra’, an intriguing herd of steer horns mounted on vinyl records. Enigmatic and stoic, their only music now rendered a syncopated optical interplay of one horn against another. Nearby an impressive latticework of black ribbon and wreaths, Ian Coopers “Switchboard Tangle”, possibly alludes to the techno-sourced death of human dependant modes of interpersonal communication.

Additional artworks here, in some way, indicate a process of discernment as ancient as humanity itself. From pre-cuneiform cave drawings to the 18th century rebus to current email emoticons, this show wittily reminds us that, as arbiters of our own visual experience, we remain Cro-Magnon and, in terms of interpretation, the sovereign of all we survey.

—Enrico Gomez