Drew Dominick at Jose Freire, New York, NY
by Tom Moody
Originally published in New Art Examiner, February 1996 issue.
Peering through the doorway, the viewer sees what might be a quirky Minimalist installation in the white cube of the gallery. Near the ceiling three loops of aircraft cable stretch across the room like clotheslines; from each line a rubber hose drops down and connects to a grinder--the kind that takes paint off cars--sitting on the floor. The viewer enters the room, unknowingly tripping a sensor, and one of the machines springs to life with a horrible dentist's-drill sound. The rubber wheel of the grinder (normally used to anchor a sanding pad) spins angrily, fast enough to rip the viewer's skin off, and the tool begins moving across the floor, guided by pulleys turning the cables overhead.
Now the viewer trips another sensor, awakening two more grinders. The three machines patrol back and forth across the room, programmed to go on and off at unpredictable intervals. When the rubber wheels touch the floor, the machines jump, skid, pirouette on their tethers, bounce out of control like demonic pogo sticks, and frequently slam into walls so violently that gaping holes have begun to appear. The viewer knows where to stand because the grinders leave skid marks on the floor--literally automatic drawings--but the experience is still unnerving. By the end of the show's month-long run the grinders have left the gallery a shambles.
If Felix Gonzales-Torres was a Christ-figure among young reinterpreters of Minimalism, gently spilling candy in a corner, inviting gallery-goers to take sheets of silk-screened paper when they left, then Drew Dominick is the Antichrist, a psycho-garage-mechanic running amuck with his power tools. The work of both artists displays an underlying appreciation for the Minimalists' quasi-sacred space (for all the havoc Dominick's installation caused, its design was considered down to the last detail). Likewise, the work of both reveals a commitment to opening up the gallery to experiences from the lifeworld: Gonzales-Torres bringing in dancers, Dominick simulating an industrial environment complete with threat of serious bodily harm.