Horizon of Expectations

John Talbird


From a distance, Eduardo Paolozzi’s prints look like computer-generated images, grids and digital curves rendered by algorithm. But stepping closer, you realize that they’re more like the maps of places that don’t yet exist or schematics of machines from the future. Descartes defined matter as that which extends into space, but these plans seem to challenge Cartesian assumptions by toying with a physical space that’s only conceptual.

Most New York galleries are sterile places to look at art. At first glance, Bushwick’s C L E A R I N G seems like all the rest—tall ceilings lit by fluorescents, concrete floors, characterless white walls—but its seedy Brooklyn location gives it the illusion that it’s more than just a few miles from similar Manhattan art stores. In Chelsea, two hundred galleries are crammed into eight blocks with the intricacy of a shut-in’s sewing. Their agents venture into Brooklyn for studio visits to binge on talent, bringing it back and purging it in the shadow of the High Line. I feel like I’m trespassing in most Chelsea galleries, but the guy at C L E A R I N G comes up to me, shakes my hand, says his name is Max.

But just like the artwork on the walls, this gallery has the scent of the future even though, by necessity, it’s rooted in the present. Years from now, the block outside will no longer be a place where trucks load and unload anything but priceless works of art and high-priced restaurants will be just down the street and no one will remember that this was ever a place where anything else might have happened.

John_CJohn Talbird is the author of the limited edition book of stories, A Modicum of Mankind (Norte Maar) with images by artist Leslie Kerby. His fiction and essays have appeared in Ploughshares, Juked, The Literary Review, Amoskeag, Ambit and elsewhere. He is an English professor at Queensborough Community College.