526 Wilson Ave Brooklyn NY
March 12 - April 2, by appointment
In Lieu of a Press Release: COVID-19 Update
There’s a character named Selena in the 2003 film 28 Days Later. Her monologue begins as such: “It started as rioting. But right from the beginning you knew this was different. Because it was happening in small villages, market towns. And then it wasn't on the TV any more. It was in the street outside. It was coming in through your windows. It was a virus.” The virus spreads in such a banal manner at first that you don’t even realize the apocalypse is here, or near. Messianic visions of grandeur and delusional Mayan predictions that the world will erupt in flames all of a sudden have never proved reliable. Indeed, it’s the slow-burning, zombified virus that spreads with a nefariously languor.
Valentino Gojcaj’s show at Triest coincides with the COVID-19 pandemic. Coincidence? Probably, but there’s no way to be sure. Who is Tino Gojcaj and what is his artwork? I don’t know, because I’m self-quarantined and I imagine he is too. Gojcaj’s show, however, happens to work on your iPhone—a QR code will lead you there, bringing you first to a private Instagram page with no profile picture or bio or name.
There’s a certain beauty to the sincerity of Valentino’s paintings at Triest. There’s a three-quarters-finished painting of the Hollywood sign in the Hills, perched over LA, but in the painting we see a small gold star at the bottom of the hill. There’s a painting of the QR code, in a stained-rag color that brings the digital to the physical and back to the digital again. There is—what looks to be—a banana in a purse going through security at an airport. The bag is being scanned by a desperately exhausted TSA agent. The banana is a gun, but it’s also a piece of sweet fruit. Gojcaj is working here in colloquial, contemporary imagery, instantly recognizable artifacts. A code, a sign, a security screen. Hollywood, airports, iPhones. There’s no distinct narrative, but there is a digital string or USB-C cable connecting each painting to the last. The palette is soft—the mood is friendly and unassuming. The space is America, and the subject is likely America, too.
There is no COVID to be seen in Gojcaj’s paintings. But that is precisely why it is possible that it is there. In the bag, in the hills or in the oils. There is only one way to be sure you will avoid the virus: scan the QR code and browse Gojcaj’s work from the safety of your home.
Valentino Gojcaj’s most recent project consists of a nameless collective, a QR code as the face of a brand— fashion and software intertwined. The exhibition also features five paintings.