Noelle Mason

NY Times by Holland Cotter

Buzzer Thirty is a fiction-and-art collective with a small gallery in an industrial building in Astoria. Its directors, Rob Maitra and James Conlon, frequently invite artists to organize exhibitions. The young conceptualist Ivan Monforte is up to bat this month, and in ‘’I Never Meant to Hurt You’’ he has brought together seven contemporaries, most of them making New York debuts, in a theatrical but nuanced take on an intense sensation, pain.

Pain, threatened or real, is physical in certain video pieces. In ‘’Belt Piece’’ by Clifford Owens, who is an artist in residence at the Studio Museum in Harlem this year, a man winces at the sound of unseen lashes hitting the floor close behind him. In Noelle Mason’s ’’Redman’’ a woman singing a racist ditty about American Indians is repeatedly slapped. With each slap the singer’s face turns a deeper red. The red of blood? Embarrassment? War paint? Whatever the answer, she sings on.

The ache of endurance is a theme in itself. It plays out in Mira Friedlaender’s video of hands unfurling an endless paper scroll, and in Shaun El C. Leonardo’s funny-scary execution of muscleman moves: with each total-body flex and crunch he seems ready to explode. And endurance becomes an organic condition in Kimi Weart’s graphite drawings, ‘’Love Conquers All: Series 1-11,’’ depicting trees that have absorbed wire fences and other obstructions into their trunks in a process of slow self-surgery.

A small, vivid painting by Tomiko Pilson, who is African-American and Filipino, is a study in cultural discomfort, a vision of an artificial paradise threatened by storms. And the storms arrive in Joel Kyack’s large drawing of a young man getting high as he watches the fall of the twin towers on television in his city apartment. He may feel anguish; he may not. He has his medication. HOLLAND COTTER

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