Artful Green Dot

Max Razdow’s Psychic Destabilization Unit

Posted in Uncategorized by Audrey Tran on January 11, 2012


When approaching the Psychic Destabilization Unit, a peculiar collage of noises arises. Listen closely, and you’ll catch muffled voices and conversations buried underneath the buzzing static. The sculpture looks like an alter made up of found IKEA furniture, mirrors, LED lights and plastic skulls–the cheap detritus that appear around Halloween and Christmas time. Imagine E.T.’s homemade telephone spouting white noise and conceptually mixed with Jack Gladney’s postmodern dread.

Of all the items, the Ikea Lack Table sitting at the heart of the PDU is the most important. Usually, this piece of furniture costs $6 and that uncommonly low price has something to do with the materials used to make the table, like the type of nails, the finish, the “wood,”…and the cardboard. Yes, correct, cardboard is an ingredient in making Ikea furniture, not just in packaging it. The artist, Max Razdow, discovered this when he removed the first thin layer of “wood” from his found table to unveil an intricate lattice shape formed by the cardboard.  It looks like a small surface of honey combs, or a neat sliver from a skull revealing the folds of a brain. Max had been amazed by its organic look, which reminded him of a meshed web. Using blue and white LED lights the artist emphasizes the cardboard organs and the alien nature lurking behind this simple piece of furniture. In other words, Max unveils the inner monster hiding under all the plastic and low-priced knick-knacks. The sculpture examines ready-made furniture, which have “obtained a sense of beauty that is outward,” Max said. The fact that theses tables bare cardboard skeletons on the inside creates “a metaphor for the emptiness.” Even the name of this item “Lack” hints at the metaphor.

The PDU brings to mind the work of Jean Baudrillard, the cultural theorist who wrote  The System of Objects, among other books related to consumerism. In this piece, Baudrillard forms a philosophy about commodities, mostly surrounding our households. In what seems like an impossibly long discussion, Baudrillard visits color, interior spaces, architecture, materials, autonomy, purchasing power and the sociology attached with all of the above to create a philosophy on consumerism. His ideas converge towards a despairing view of our lifestyle:

“…THERE ARE NO LIMITS TO CONSUMPTION. If consumption were indeed what it is naively assumed to be, namely a process of absorption or devouring, a saturation point would inevitably be reached. If consumption were indeed tied to the realm of needs, some sort of progress towards satisfaction would presumably occur. We know very well that nothing of that kind happens: people simply want to consume more and more.”

That’s the kind of language we might use to describe worms or viruses. And what is to come of this conversation?  Razdow continues right where Baudrillard leaves off.  For the artist, there is a way out of this endless satisfaction—One must become a creator instead of a consumer. His piece of sculptural science fiction exemplifies this idea.  As a theorist, Jean Baudrillard doesn’t search for solutions. If left to him, our consumer society would remain prisoners of a viscoius cycle. Note his  final sentence on the matter:  “Consumption is irrepressible, in the last reckoning, because it is founded upon a lack.”


I first came across the Psychic Destabilization Unit during the 2009 Bushwick Beta Spaces Festival.  The piece was also shown at Washington Square East Gallery in 2008. Max received his MFA from New York University and is currently based in Queens. His paintings, drawings, and sculptures have been exhibited at Andrew Eldin Gallery, Galerie Jan DhaeseFreight + Volume, and St. Cecilia’s Convent. 

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