Joseph Nechvatal and the Lower East Side


by Kimberly Fine

East Village Eye

October 15th, 1983

Joseph Nechvatal is one Lower East Side artist whose social concerns are international. Politically motivated by the transfer of power to a nuclear authority, Nechvatals work addresses the present day cold war as well as art history and chic society.

This is no chameleon act. He makes black and white drawings of the first degree. Dense and chaotic landscapes that aren’t offered up much outside of New York, yet they express a back-of-the-mind fear we all can identify with sometimes. It is impossible to look at his work and move on because you cannot see it all in one time. This is some spiderman’s web, and all of a sudden you’re in so far that you must accept the responsibility (of him) in order to get back out.

This responsibility is not a vague esthetic gesture. And a condolence card simply will not do. Art history now graces the world with the atomic age legacy as replacement for the Christ drama. Joseph Nechvatal is adamant that we do not toe the line of nuclear crucifixion.

The lines are all connected: the whole will send you into places where inhumane landmarks are masked and modeled as faces, as slicked up personal weapons, and as parts of our bodies. Pick apart components and understand that man is the master of machines.

All at once industry, international politics, nuclear war, and advertising mirages are vying as an independent, but seamlessly connected, head of the same large body. This is the frenzy of the snake that eats its own tail…(…)