Danish-Icelandic artist Jacob Boeskov belongs to the ever-expanding, mostly boys’ club of autobiographical artists for whom irony, social commentary, and sexuality are interchangeable tools in a mad scramble to get ahead in art. The centerpiece of this sort-of retrospective is “My Doomsday Weapon” (2002/2004), a performance piece in which Boeskov attended China Police 2002, a weapons and police equipment trade fair held in Beijing. The Borat!-like premise of his journey was that he would pass himself off as a real arms dealer, and bring with him the prototype of a futuristic weapon, the ID-Sniper, a rifle that shoots tiny GPS positioning devices that lodge under the skin of targets, making them traceable by police. The mock-up of the gun is on display, as well as various detritus associated with the stunt: a laminated badge from the conference in Boeskov’s name, his registration materials, and snapshots of Boeskov posing with legitimate attendees of China Police 2002.
Performance artists have been playing with guns at least since “Shoot,” the 1971 piece in which Chris Burden had a friend fire a bullet from a .22 rifle into his left arm. It’s easy to imagine that Boeskov shares the fundamental need that Burden expressed when he was asked why he staged “Shoot”-“I wanted to be taken seriously as an artist.” Whether or not you buy into the logic of Burden’s literally self-destructive lunge toward legitimacy goes a long way toward determining how much interest his legacy will hold for you.
“My Doomsday Weapon” aside, Boeskov’s best work takes the aesthetic of Southern California icon Raymond Pettibon and filters it back through his own life and experiences. In primitive charcoal drawings, Boeskov opens a door onto the remains of Scandinavian counterculture and the concerns of an up-and-coming artist. “The Trip” (2007) expresses his point of view nicely, albeit through the story of two girls. Their first psychedelic experience is recounted with none of the pyrotechnics of phantasmagoria. Instead, the artist emphasizes the disillusionment they feel the next day, when they “both sensed they had been lied to their whole life. : From now on there really was no way back.”