Before the Enlightenment elevated empiricism and introduced the notion of “pseudoscience” as its foil, religion, magic, and science coexisted on a relatively level plane. Today, art remains one of few arenas that have been able to sidestep Enlightenment mandates; here, the exploration of ideas is not confined to the reproducibility of empirical data, allowing for a more unconstrained examination of the nature of things. The seven artists included in The Hidden Passengers, now at apexart, take a paradoxical approach that applies the visual and linguistic vocabularies of scientific research to the unverifiable worlds of their imaginations.
Curator Avi Lubin presents The Hidden Passengers much like an exhibition of scientific artifacts, albeit with something a little off. The more time a viewer spends with the works, the more evident their strange incongruities become. In Tomer Sapir’s Research for the Full Crypto-Taxidermical Index (2010–2014), a glowing surface illuminates what appear to be pods, bits of fungal fluff, parts of creatures, and other bio-matter, all of which on closer inspection reveal themselves to be made of materials such as wax, salt, latex, cement, and plant fibers. Sapir’s untitled piece (2012), a more menacing sculpture hanging on the back wall, resembles either a giant pair of blackened lungs—the sort seen in an anti-smoking ad—or something from the movie Alien, while Roxy Paine’s Cloud Specimen (Cloud/Fungus) (2009), a globular, gray object of epoxy, thermoset polymer, oil, and lacquer suspended in a bell jar, offers a more whimsical take on collecting.