Whitehot Magazine

Last Wash at Midnight at The Border Project Space + Home Gallery

Nicholas Oh, ​ue-men,​ 2018, stoneware, expandable foam, paint, ratchet strap, 10 x 2 x 2 ft.


Jamie Martinez wears a couple of hats in the art industry. He is an artist, curator, publisher and a contributor to the art community. In his new double show “Last Wash at Midnight” + “Last Wash at Midnight – Advertisement” he combines two independent art spaces, The Border Project Space in Bushwick, BK and Home Gallery in Chinatown, New York City to deliver a unique theme and a look at the business of washing clothes as an art exhibition.

“Last Wash at Midnight” at The Border Project Space, installation view courtesy of The Border Project Space.

In the first installation at Home Gallery, a window on 291 Grand Street a few blocks east of Broadway and next to James Cohan Gallery, Martinez created a dark advertisement to promote the “Last Wash at Midnight” show, in the hopes of attracting more clients, complete with a creepy tortilla mask much like a malevolent ghost surrounded by a hooded black garment. The installation is glowing with red light and it’s meant to bring attention to the other show, a false laundromat he has set up in his gallery The Border Project Space in Brooklyn, whose function is the reverse of what we expect: clothes which can also be interpreted as souls, are made dirtier rather than being cleaned. In this window installation we see the work of Jaejoon Jang who is responsible for the tortilla mask figure; Chelsea Nader offered two slightly bent English Porcelain machines; and Nicholas Oh is displaying an upside-down stoneware head resulting from industrial 3-D sculpture and modeling, looks at identity at a time when we are close to overwhelmed with the issue. Finally, Martinez himself offers a clay owl with a unique spell to warn him, a Native American symbol of mystery wisdom and death. 

“Last Wash at Midnight – Advertisement” at Home Gallery, installation view courtesy of Home Gallery and The Border Project Space.

In Brooklyn, where Martinez’s gallery is located, the ersatz laundromat is on view. We find one large print of 2 strange laundry machines with one that has stepped into reality, an upside-down figure, composed of three coats, suspended from the ceiling by ratchet straps, and a pair of floating red clay hands, which are supposed to ask permission from the Mayan God A, in a spell first written in English and then translated into Mayan, for access to them in the underworld. Yet strangely, as explained by Martinez, the attempt to wash the clothing actually makes them less clean. Now, more than ever, we are living in a time of compromised ethics, and it may be that what he had hoped for in life is actually a misreading, leading to profound disappointment, in regards to the spirits of the underworld that seem both to guide us and to throw us off balance in the same moment. We must remember that while the theme of the underworld is essential to the window installation on Grand Street, it is also an effort attempting to bring more collectors into Martinez’s commercial base. It is a mistake to assume, especially now in materially oriented 21st century, that spiritual life can be detached from the inevitable complexities of American capital economies and the allure of things.

Jamie Martinez, Permission, 2020, clay, paint, spell, marker, scratches, 13” Length x 5” Wide (approximately), Not for Sale, Offering a custom version of your own hands with a unique spell specially for you.

(L-R) Chelsea Nader and Jaejoon Jang at The Border Project Space, installation image courtesy of the Broder Project Space.

This means, then, that the show covers two approaches: a path toward the ineffable and the recognition that art is based on commercial exchange. What can be done about this? Not very much. The window environment is open to anyone passing along it on the street, while the Brooklyn gallery is a designated destination, not easily accessible to those who do not know the ways of the art world in Bushwick. It seems to me, though, that the real measure of this very interesting collaboration has a great deal to do with Martinez’s ongoing perception that we are attended by mysteries we cannot understand, not all of them benign. His commentary, as much implied as it is explicit, is germane: we live in a time of confusion and doubt, where things become their opposite: the washing machines make the clothes more soiled, while the spiritual advances hoped for in the installation are as easily undermined as celebrated, and require an esoteric approach--a spell --to break through the limits of daily life.

“Last Wash at Midnight – Advertisement” at Home Gallery

Chelsea Nader, Jaejoon Jang, Nicholas Oh and Jamie Martinez

Curated by Jamie Martinez at HOME Gallery

February 20 – March 14, 2021

Closing outdoor reception 

March 14 6-8 pm at 291 Grand Street, NYC.

Last Wash at Midnight 

Chelsea Nader, Jaejoon Jang, Nicholas Oh and Jamie Martinez

Curated by Jamie Martinez at The Border Project Space

February 12 – March 20, 2021

Outdoor Performance and Closing reception for “Last Wash at Midnight” at The 

Border Project Space – 56 Bogart St. #122, BK, NY 11206

March 20th Closing reception 6-8pm 

Final Spin Performance on March 20th, at 7pm featuring Ronit Levin Delgado with David Chalet and Gabriel Garcia. WM

Jonathan Goodman

Jonathan Goodman is a writer in New York who has written for Artcritical, Artery and the Brooklyn Rail among other publications. 


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