"Rear Window: Wallace and Donahue"
February 1 - March 1 1986

"The collaborative sense of these works is not that the paintings are literally made by two people, but that they seem to harbor an internal dialogue. This discursive character is reflected in the incongruous juxtaposition of formal painting and eccentric attachments (rearview mirror, swimming pool ladder, etc.), in the refusal of a specific signature style, and in their humor. Moreover, between such conscious incongruities there is an element of "play." As Roland Barthes suggested, play involves simultaneously the notions of slippage (as in a mechanism with "play") and—as in a game—strategy, fun, and competition. This "play" characterizes the way we approach meaning or define meaning in these works: open-endedly, empirically, and with a sense of collaboration between artist and viewer. We do not simply decode the work's meaning, rather we construct—through free play and desire—works which understand us.

Wallace & Donahue's paintings then may be said to be "situational." This suggests that while the paintings are not, say, site-specific, they do draw a large measure of their meaning from the viewer's involvement in the context and conditions of their exhibition. In this respect, they constitute less of a critique of specific facts of exhibition than attentiveness to the awkwardness of displaying and viewing art...Articulate critics themselves, Wallace & Donahue recognize that "You can control the appearance of something," but at the same time they ask, "how do you control meaning?"

Courtesy the Artists and New Museum