I Object! Kenny Schachter: Sculpture / Pacific Design Center Gallery, Los Angeles

Perfectly timed for Frieze Week Los Angeles 2024, Kenny Schachter says “I Object!” and puts up a solo show in the former MOCA satellite space at the Pacific Design Center in West Hollywood. The show mainly features sculpture, but also videos, prints and paintings. In this video, Kenny Schachter takes us on a tour of the exhibition. If you would like to see the show for yourself: The exhibition is open daily from 10am – 6pm February 13 thru March 3, 2024, then by appointment thru April 6, 2024.

Exploring the art ecosystem and broader societal issues since 1993, Kenny Schachter critiques the art market’s opaque workings with humor and satire. The exhibit includes NFTism stools showcasing satirical films, inspired by Joseph Beuys’ teachings. Schachter coined “NFTism” during the NFT craze, highlighting blockchain’s potential for art authentication and trading. Futuristic busts of artists, including avatars and real-life figures, are also featured, along with self-reflective sculptures like “Selfie-man.” Schachter’s exhibit challenges norms and embraces technological shifts in the art world.

I Object! Kenny Schachter: Sculpture / Pacific Design Center, Los Angeles. February 23, 2024.

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Press text:

This multimedia exhibit in the former MOCA satellite space located within César Pelli’s iconic Pacific Design Center, is comprised of recent sculptures, videos, prints and paintings all of which derive from digital files—the majority of which have never been seen before (other than the loop of video works spanning decades). 

The videos and writings, since 1993, largely pertain to the art ecosystem—but beyond—to the greater social, political, economic and technological landscape we are mired in; and, in particular, to the hermetically sealed machinations of the art market, generally known by few and understood by less. Systematically pulling back the curtains on the goings on of the gallery, museum, auction and art fair businesses (they are all nothing short of ruthless commercial enterprises—even institutions) in a critical and analytical fashion, Schachter brings attention to the myriad hypocrisies of the art world. By employing humor, he disarms and diffuses the often harsh and biting nature of the satire. 

The NFTism stools, now serving as a screening room for a series of short narrative satirical films, emanate from a classroom installation at his solo exhibit at the Francisco Carolinum Museum in Linz, Austria (September 2023 – February 2024), inspired by Joseph Beuys’ Free International University (FIU) for Creativity and Interdisciplinary Research founded in his studio in 1973. Beuys famously said: Teaching is my greatest work of art, the rest is the waste product, a demonstration. If you want to express yourself you must present something tangible.” For Kenny, teaching is a performative act he’s engaged in since 1992, as much to impart information as to gain it in the first instance.

NFTism is a turn of phrase coined by Schachter in early 2021 at the dawn of the NFT craze signifying the optimistic state of collaboration, communication and community first engendered by early adapters of the blockchain and the application of smart contracts for purposes of circumventing the gated art system creating new opportunities in the process. Sadly, things rapidly deteriorated whereby the NFT universe aped the worst characteristics of the art market. But don’t write if off yet, it makes too much sense signaling a paradigm shift in how art can be authenticated, traded and ultimately made. 

There are futuristic busts of a wide range of artists, some living and others brought back to life through their avatars—a metaphysical phenomenon we are not too far off from. The (not quite) life-sized figures of art world celebs like Yayoi Kusama and Hans Ulrich Obrist were created after originally being pitted against their NFT counterparts like Beeple and Refik Anadol—and Paris Hilton who managed to straddle both worlds—from a conceptual video game previously created by Schachter. 

The composer Jean Sebelius said, in 1937, he doesn’t read reviews as no one has ever erected a statue for a critic. With “Roberta Smith: Of a critic by a critic”, Schacter has fixed that with one sculptural gesture. In Selfie-man, Schachter depicts himself as a victim of the collective infatuation and mindless addiction to smart phones and the habit, he’s admittedly guilty of himself, of documenting every facet of our lives for social media (and, adds Kenny, “to regularly embarrass my kids!”). 

Posted in: art, interview, Los Angeles