andrewhasartshow on Clothes Pit: Since You’r… Jean Butler on Clothes Pit: Since You’r… Mary Fortuna on Animated gif: Dancing!
The source material for the wall drawings are aerial photography dating back to 1949 and then I track the changes up to the most current Google satellite images available at the time.
There’s just one day left to view “Prime Candidates,” the fascinating show currently up at 2739 Edwin in Hamtramck. Curator and gallery owner Steve Panton considers the work on display part of Detroit’s “dirtgeist,” a movement he associates with trash (plastic bags, especially) and nature. In it, participating local artists Scotty Slade and Andrew Thompson, as well as the Canadian duo Duke and Battersby, all pose intriguing questions about the points of intersection between human domesticity and the natural world.
Slade’s work, the first you’ll encounter, is fashioned out of materials like tall, leafless trees, the discarded exoskeletons of cicadas and, most arrestingly, animal hides and bones obtained from the slaughterhouses of Detroit’s Eastern Market. Slade has arranged these materials into a fantastic scene populated by two hybrid creatures, weird beings that exist somewhere in between species (including our own). A third creature, the viewer, is inserted into the work via a real-time, interactive video component. Slade’s work (and especially his process, which involves tanning the hides and boiling the bones) questions and indeed actively resists our increasing distance from the natural world.
Duke and Battersby’s work bridges that same divide, but it uses a transgressive, interspecies romance to do it. With a captivating (and at times hilarious) short film and several sculptures, including wonderful, diorama-like scenes in vitrines, they tell the curiously affecting story of a scientist, the chimpanzee she loves and the public outcry that greets their unusual union. It’s bold work in subject matter and execution, artfully prodding the viewer to consider the genetic similarity of humans and chimps and the socially enforced boundaries that usually keep us congregating with our own kind.
With a witty touch and a metaphor borrowed from the natural world, Thompson’s piece addresses a very human problem of material culture: overabundance. His astonishing “laundry tornado” consists of a plain, white laundry basket, out of which emerges a massive stack of laundry that grows to an incredible height of 14 feet, blooming dramatically as it swoops toward the gallery’s windows. It’s wonderful work, spectacular yet intimate, and accessible to anyone who’s ever wondered how, exactly, they’ve managed to accumulate that much dirty laundry.
“Prime Candidates” is on view Saturday, July 9, from 1 to 6 p.m. Don’t miss the closing reception at 8:00 that night, which will include artist talks by Slade and Thompson, as well as a conversation and video screenings with Duke and Battersby.
Excerpt from AnnArbor.com, John Carlos Cantu, writer:
“Finally, Detroiters Andrew Thompson and Scotty Wagner have amassed the exhibit’s most ambitious project with their “Seen and Not Seen” installation set in the gallery’s rear alcove. This duo’s dubious trove of the 20th century electronic detritus piled ceiling high in the Gallery Project’s rear corner takes a page from master-Dadaist Marcel Duchamp’s “Etant donnes” with a near-hidden eyehole nestled in the rubble. A subterranean, bony model keeps a discreet eye on the gallery by way of a functioning remote video monitor. Amusing, chilling, and puzzling, Thompson and Wagner certainly prove they’ve had a lot of time on their hands to construct this outstanding artwork devoted to observing the passage of time itself.”
Excerpt from thedetroiter.com, Clara DeGalan, writer:
“It seems no show is complete nowadays without the obligatory huge pile of garbage installation that maybe sticks around because it’s relevant in the rust belt (unfortunately), but “Unhooked from Time’s” offering, by Andrew Thompson and Scotty Wagner, Seen and Unseen, has something extra- peek into the yellow viewing portal that’s almost hidden in its bulky side to find out what. Andrew Thompson and Scotty Wagner’s installation with a hidden surprise.”
Excerpt from Tom McCartan, writer:
“The best pieces in the show are the ones, like Andrew Thompson and Scotty Wagner’s mixed media piece Seen and Not Seen, that actually effect the viewer’s perception of time in–for lack of a better term–real time. My first impression of their piece, to be honest, was negative. Located in the back of the gallery, it appears as a mountain of technological detritus. It is, basically, a heap of outdated televisions, computer parts, and other little nasties. I was ready to write it off as another glib statement on contemporary Western culture’s “throw-away” mentality, which would make the piece boring and didactic, when gallery co-director showed me the true beauty of the work. The trash heap is hollow and there is a spot, hidden amid the refuse, where the viewer can look inside. The inside is made out to look like a sort of Bedouin living space, replete with sheepskins. There is a figure seated on the ground watching a monitor that relays a live video feed of the gallery from a cleverly hidden camera mounted somewhere on the pile. The effect of watching someone (or something)watch the space that you, the viewer, are a part of, is mesmerizing and serves to actually “unhook” the viewer from time.”
In grade-school, the bathroom was a dramatic place. Here you separated men from women and adults from children. Bathroom stalls are still scrawled with the beginning lawlessness of young minds. The memories of your grade-school hallways are warped and twisted, visually and mentally. They seem to close in upon you, the stairways smaller; more dark and mysterious than memory had claimed them to be. Lights flicker in places where they shouldn’t be and invading posters crawl along the walls.
Amidst that reflection we can move on towards considering Andrew Thompson’s installation at The Burton Theatre. One of the most important themes that artists address is our relationships to our environment. Molding our surroundings and altering our perception and awareness of simple spaces, these artists allow their audience to experience a common space (say a bathroom or a stairwell) in a uniquely memorable way. “From room to room” is no different. Burton Theatre is located on the corner of Peterboro and Cass Ave. in a re-distributed grade-school. These hallways and classrooms now house artists’ studios and the Burton Theatre itself. The House of Raw, a curatorial project undertaken by Detroit artist Cristin Richard, hosts artists’ installations, and during opening receptions shows corresponding films in the theater. According to Richard, “Andrew chose to screen “The Hole” because of the relationship between the man inhabiting an apartment above a woman’s. Basically, Andy was trying to connect the space between the men’s room and the ladies room.”
The current exhibition by Andrew Thompson is physically comprised of strips of plastic bags tied together tightly and woven into the environment. Its beginning, as it were, is in the basement men’s restroom where they coat the walls and ceilings like spiderwebs. It trails down the narrow hallway, weaving in and out of locker handles and doors. It floats on up the stairway, spinning and turning up two flights of stairs above the audience. Criss-crossing white/red/blue lines lead the audience into a women’s restroom. Here the grand finale, or nest egg, of a water bottle chandelier awaits. It hangs half over the top of the stalls, intruding on the sacred space, patiently awaiting those who’d enter the room.
The Detroiter also had an e-mail interview with the artist, and asked him a few questions regarding his installation.
Detroiter: How long did you work on the installation?
Andrew: I’ve been thinking about the piece ever since I was invited by Cristin Richard back in the Fall. The physical installation took about 2 weeks time, working whenever the Burton Theatre was open, mostly weekend nights.
D: Did you have any help?
A: Lindy Shewbridge was my assistant for most of the time I was installing, also I received a lot of help from my studio mate Scotty Wagner and his girlfriend Amanda Luci.
D: What is your belief about the use of materials (i know that you get your material from things thrown away, and that’s because you don’t like to introduce/use new materials, rather to use what already exists, is this correct?)
A:There are a number of reasons I’m interested in working with the plastic bags and bottles. Most obvious is that I am working with used materials, so I think of the artwork as a second life, or more cynically as a lay-over, for the materials before they are recycled or discarded again. I also am attracted to these materials because they are created to be containers for consumable goods, and I like to think of whatever media I work in as a container for my aesthetics thoughts.
D: What does it mean to you?
A: The meaning of the piece can be interpreted a number of ways, how I think about the installation is that it functions as a collaboration between myself and the building. The plastic bags functions as lines in space that essentially connect-the-dots between all of the peculiar spaces and utilities that are exposed throughout the building.
D: Were you satisfied with the result, and the showing of people?
A: As with all installation projects, you never can guess accurately how the piece is going to manifest when compared to the vision the artist might have in their head. Two days before the opening I had mixed feelings about the piece, but then I managed to resolve a few issues and ended up being satisfied with the final outcome. I am very thankful to all of the people who came out to see the show on a snowy weeknight.
“From Room to Room” will be up through February 26th