Art in Review: Joan Fontcuberta
The New York Times
December 24, 2004
The Spanish mischief-maker Joan Fontcuberta is at it again, this time inspired by the 2001 incident in which an American spy plane that crashed in China was thoroughly picked over and returned to the United States in pieces. Entitled ''Pin Zhuang,'' Chinese for ''dismantled'' or ''puzzle,'' this show depicts model planes carefully mis-constructed by the artist and photographed on ''flights'' through outer space.
The planes, which look like flying piles of engineered debris but also suggest advanced weapon systems, NASA-conceived orbiters and techy sculptures by the American constructivist Theodore Roszak, soar over spacey background vistas of Earth and other terrains taken from NASA photographs. ''Starfighter,'' for one, a fearsome assemblage of miscellaneous parts with a terrifying needle nose, hovers like a hungry bird of prey over a vast stretch of Earth. Below it is a diagram showing the right way -- as opposed to the Fontcuberta way -- to assemble it.
The artist views his work as questioning assumptions of photography as truth, and also as stirring up received ideas about authority, order, discipline and orthodoxy. It's an ambitious program, but fortunately the work survives it.