Ian Cheng, Entropy Wrangler: live burner phone submerged in oil (detail), 2013
Courtesy of the Artist and Off Vendome, Düsseldorf

Off Vendome, Düsseldorf

July 17 2013
4:04 PM

The building housing Off Vendome—the Düsseldorf project space run by Matt Moravec—is lined with vertical, boat-like portholes, as if it were a sideways ship from the future cemented improbably a stone’s throw from the Rhine. Stickers on the space’s front window—a leftover from some previous identity—say “Deco Carré,” or decorative square: a fitting play on the function of a gallery. As I entered its inaugural show, Ian Cheng’s “Entropy Wrangler,” an old lady next door tending lilies on her balcony seemed clueless to the fact that a mural on her home’s side wall depicts a fantastical, William Gibson-esque scene: a cyclopean squid escaping out of a scientist’s vial, a zombie-like soccer player and Little Italy gangster. The mural, which was there before Moravec opened Off Vendome, still somehow set the scene for Cheng’s show: inside, a real squid was preserved in a vacuum-sealed bag, curled up on a pink pool toy. In the space’s basement, a video showed a series of digitally-programmed characters in an entropic environment where they stand clobbering each other or infinitely sinking due to a gravitational field programmed by Cheng, like some Google SketchUp-feeling doomsday ecology. If Rhineland-related art has been having a moment in the US—call it the Krebber Syndrome—then Moravec is both following this principle through to its end while, in a way, refreshingly inverting the formula: importing new exhibitions, in the Rhineland, by US-based artists such as Zak Kitnick, Margaret Lee and Emily Sundblad. (Pablo Larios)

Margaret Lee and Emily Sundblad’s current show “Für die Kinder Düsseldorfs” at Off Vendome, Düsseldorf, will run through September 12.