Remembering Gabriel Orozco's show at the MOMA last year makes me think that Paul Thek really did have something to share. Thek actually makes stuff and makes it with an encouragement for others to also make stuff. Like Thek, Orozco's show also began with his take on the cube, here in the form of an empty shoebox. The difference is that one container is reliquary and the other is discard. Orozco has run off wearing the shoes and asks us to celebrate our cleanup. The square box as container really is a great invention, but in this case (NPI) it is has nothing on the conk shell.
Orozco's famous debut of putting up clear Danon yogurt lids on a gallery wall polarized opinions, mostly for their sheer brashness. The gesture inspired imaginative references to clear plastic emptiness, "O" design entendres, and post-colonial clutter, but all I can think of is the artist enjoying the yogurt in the next room. "Leftovers of specific situations" is what the he calls his art, boring situations. When Dudley Moore, as Arthur, sees a mounted moose head, he asks "where's the rest of that moose?". Orozco riding around on a headless moose? Now that's a situaton.
Maybe the banality is the point. I seem to be holding him to task for not prompting my peculiar imagination in a certain direction. Orozco came as one of the burgeoning 'global' artists on the late 80's that seemed to lit up by timely shows like the MOMA's 1984 Primitivism (a show that fueled terms like 'cultural appropriation' and political correctness) and Magicians of the Earth at the Pompidou (is it a surprise that NY had the brutally modernist show and Paris had the inclusively apologetic one?). The time was hot with fashionable political correctness and this did not hurt the new voice of art coming from outside established art capitals. Mexican and nomadic, Orozco would roll his ball of clay across the globe, mundanely indexing the filthy paths we (the colonizers) have laid for him (the exploited). In this sense his work can come off as spiteful and lazy when compared to other artists. Is it 'revenge' art when he takes something back? Rirkrit Tiravanija invited the public to come in to a gallery and eat with him. Orozco taunted musemgoers with oranges across the street. As far as invention goes the work at the MOMA show had nothing on the razor-sharp tactical design and brilliance of David Hammons. Is a trisected Citroen a redesign or a "fuck you"? Why does a whale skeleton need a tattoo?
The actual sculpture of Orozco's 'leftovers' show no interest in the elan of Duchamp's refocused tilts, the wonder Rauchenberg's dusty attic discoveries, or the whimsical twist of Hammons' phoenix imagination. The 'specific situation' holds a grudge. A musician takes a piano and gives us music with it. Orozco yawns on the same piano.