by David M. Roth
Large-scale photos of an opened book of literary criticism, supplemented by floor-mounted sculptures, digital photo collages and an audio installation comprise the physical aspects of the exhibition, the details of which I’ll describe later. I do so because A Novel, while it assumes the posture of a visual art exhibition, is really more of a literary event: a seriocomic roman à clef-cum-gallery exhibition about the inner struggles faced by every artist worth his or her salt. None of which would be noteworthy if Discenza weren't an engaging wordsmith and fabulist. Here, donning both hats, Discenza thrusts deeper into the Borgesian territory he’s staked out in previous exhibitions in which mock horror stories, fake street signs, phony docent tours, scrambled videos and invented art-historical personages have messed with many a viewer’s mind.
answer, I think, is obvious: Confounding gallery goers is too much fun, and besides, it’s far easier than writing…novels. In the end, A Novel’s greatest strength is its ability to cast doubt: Does the book exist or doesn’t it? From the elaborate backstories that enable Tony’s criticism of it, The Disappointments would have to exist; yet everything we know of Discenza’s past tells us it doesn’t. Thus, Discenza, like the literary critics he so shrewdly lampoons, has it both ways.
most eye-catching example, calls to mind David Maisel’s aerial photos of large-scale strip mining operations. The difference is that Discenza’s piece has the surface texture of embossed aluminum, making it both sculptural and photographic – and, perfectly consonant with the type of Internet-based photographic work that is now fast becoming mainstream.