Josh Kline’s Triennial Surveillance

The New York artist delivers a brave new world.

Josh Kline

Josh Kline takes a dim view of how technology is changing what it means to be human: The New York artist exploits the language of mass media and advertising—as well as the latest software—to create installations, sculptures, and videos that explore the impact of trying “to become ever more efficient and productive,” he says. Kline has made wall-mounted “desanitizers” using gels crawling with live bacteria cultures, and 3-D printed sculptures of FedEx workers, their body parts displayed in delivery boxes. The latter are part of a new series “focused on people at thelosing end of all these digital transformations,” says Kline, 35, whose ascent has been steady since his first solo show in 2011 at the New York gallery 47 Canal. Surveillance is another of his preoccupations. “All day long, as we use the phone and the Internet, we’re leaking information that is collected to create portraits of us,” he says. His latest installation, Freedom, which is on view in New York as part of the New Museum’s 2015 triennial (through May 24) and will be expanded for a solo show this August at Modern Art Oxford in England, features four “mannequins” of SWAT team officers with Teletubby faces and televisions embedded in their stomachs. In the videos playing on those monitors, actors dressed as police read the social media feeds of activists, whom they are made to resemble via face-mapping software. Says Kline of the piece: “It’s really about identity theft.”

Josh Kline’s Skittles, 2014, at the High Line, New York. Photograph by Timothy Schenck/Courtesy of Friends of the High Line.

The Next Frontier

“In the art world, you don’t get to interact with everyday people as often as you would imagine.” -Tavares Strachan.

Tavares Strachan’s You Belong Here, 2014. Courtesy of the artist.

“I was hiding all of this offstage stuff, and I started thinking I could do it the other way.” -Lucas Blalock

Two Lettuces, 2014. Courtesy of the artist.

“I have a huge studio by the fjord. Sometimes, even when it’s cold, I go down to the water. When I got pregnant, my whole body wanted to go back to Norway. It was a force. And I haven’t complained one second.” -Ida Ekblad

Ekblad’s Kons, 2014. Courtesy of the artist and Gavin Brown’s Enterprise.

“Embarrassment and discomfort are a great place for a painting to exist.” -Sanya Kantarovsky

Wet Hands, 2015. Courtesy of the artist, Casey Kaplan, New York, and Marc Foxx, Los Angeles.

“All day long, as we use the phone and the Internet, we’re leaking information that is collected to create portraits of us.” -Josh Kline

Professionalism and Po-Po, both 2015 are elements from Kline’s installation Freedom, 2015. Photograph by Biel Parklee.