Ecology, Education and Survival: In Conversation with Kenny Scharf

Video produced by Maria Brito. Camera: Peter Koloff. Editing Maria Brito and Peter Koloff.

The unusually warm days of this past October may have been somewhat celebrated by New Yorkers who, like me, long for sunny days and balmy weather year-round, but deep inside we knew that something was off, that the consequences which include devastating hurricanes and decimating storms, are anything but good. Looking close at the effects of global warming is what Kenny Scharf has been doing for many years in his work. In the past two weeks Kenny had two remarkable events in New York: the first, Inner and Outer Space, is a solo show with Jeffrey Deitch on the Wooster Street location that includes a series of new paintings whose classic Kenny faces and characters are melting and disintegrating, bringing awareness to excessive temperatures from the over-utilization of natural resources. Additionally, the use of recycled garbage has been a constant in Kenny’s practice present in the assemblages and television sets he’s turned into art for many decades. The second is the inclusion of his work in the exhibition Club 57: Film, Performance, and Art in the East Village, 1978–1983 at the Museum of Modern Art comprising some of his early, most iconic works, including the cosmic cavern, which I’ve documented before in my book and previous posts, and which plays homage to Club 57, the East Village nightclub that fostered the arts and gave free reign to the underground and downtown creatives of the late 70s and 80s. The cavern, composed of thousands of plastic objects that Kenny has found on the street and that were discarded as garbage, have been coated with glow-in-the-dark spray paint and glued onto the walls of this space. 80s music can be heard overhead, thus engulfing visitors visually, auditorily and emotionally. 

Kenny Scharf - Inner and Outer Space

Deitch Projects

18 Wooster Street

New York, NY 10013

Until December 22, 2017

Club 57: Film, Performance, and Art in the East Village, 1978–1983

The Museum of Modern Art

11 West 53 Street

New York, NY 10019

Until April 1, 2018