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Friday, April 24, 2009

An Anatomy of Melancholy

Jocelyn Meggait's BFA show, "Melancholy Objects," had its reception last night. She marvelously transformed the space -- a bright jeweled beaded curtain snakes through the gallery, making a scrim that captures and seems to project light.

There is a chair entirely covered in jewelry and watches. It's as if a Thrift Store had a case of indigestion and ended up belching out a throne. There's something regal about it, and something marine about it too -- it's no longer fit for human comfort, and has the ragged outlines of a piece of coral, covered with an armor of varicolored barnacles.

The main recurring image is that of an old doll's dress, or baby's dress. Sometimes they show up in ghostly rayograms, sometimes they've been inked and printed on paper, sometimes they've been pressed into clay tablets, and a few of them are encased in wax, and made to stand like tiny, hollowed-out tipis. Jocelyn mentioned, in her talk, that she'd inherited the small dresses from her mother. She took them all for doll's dresses, but then, going over family slides given to her by her sister, realized that she herself had worn some of the dresses as a child. There are two imposing life-size rayograms of adult dresses, as well. One is a wedding dress, in a state of dilapidation, that she bought off ebay for $10. Which she described as a fairly depressing transaction.

Above: a picture of the artist, seen through her own meticulous curtain.

It's tricky to rummage through family detritus and show it off as art. It can be trying enough to be marched through your own family's slides -- being marched through some other family's slides can amount to cruel and unusual punishment. In my eyes, Jocelyn actually pulls it off. There's a feeling of repose and distance that carries the objects out of their cocoon of hermetic nostalgia. The objects are able to to stand in their own object-ness, with their own dignity and their own mysteries. They seem to play out (or in the case of the twisted dresses, to dance out) their own stories, related to (yet independent of) the stories of the people who wore them.

Two "pedestals" in the show are flat files, each drawer filled with more artwork, jewelry, and ephemera (I think Jocelyn, in this show, is trying to close the gap between artwork and ephemera). It gave the feeling of rifling through the drawers of a house you've broken into. That's part of the pleasure of wandering through an antique store -- a circumscribed permission of trespass. It's particularly heightened when you find boxes of old postcards, or lines scribbled in the margins of a book.

The show's title comes from a Susan Sontag essay, which describes photographs themselves as "melancholy objects," since they necessarily mark people and places that are constantly rushing into the past, to obscurity and ultimately to non-existence. So take these photos as melancholy objects of "Melancholy Objects."

Clay Club Pottery Sale

The Clay Club's pottery sale is ongoing: 10am-6pm through this Sunday, the 24th. Some pics of the fine wares are posted below. Some of them may already be sold, so get thee to Patterson Hall, before it all goes...

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Special Topics: Los Angeles- revisited

The Special Topics: Los Angeles field course is gathering again, after taking a few weeks to let the trip settle, to begin to put together a book about the course. I wanted to post more images of the trip. One of our tasks was to bring a work of art to L.A. and place it on site somewhere in L.A. Above is my color transparency of a video still. I placed it in the urban landscape of building tops downtown.

Cherie Louise Turner is on the far right. Cherie is an editor and writer of art criticism. She flew down to L.A. to meet with the students, talk about their work and their impressions of L.A. Cherie is going to contribute an essay to the book we are pulling together for the field course. The book should bring the evidence of the trip together and perhaps include little works of art. Russell Dudley and I will also contribute to the book.

This gentleman is showing Russell Dudley and Elizabeth Deer his collection of vintage slides. We saw a cardboard sign on the road in the Echo Park neighborhood that read: "art, antiques and smut." He was selling many items out of his house. and around his house. I think he was on speed.

Outside of the Box gallery in Chinatown, just north of downtown (within walking distance of our hotel). We saw a portion of a kind of disparate retrospective of Stan Vanderbeek's art. Stan Vanderbeek was another Black Mountain College student. A doctoral candidate and Stan's daughter were there to answer questions specifically about Stan's Movie Drome (1963-?) in Stony Point New York- his early multimedia experiences in the 1960's. During the presentation a cat meandered thru the crowd making small noises. This mangaged to equalize the experience towards what seemed to be the casual experience Stan attempted to create with his work. Chinatown used to contain more of the stronger small exhibition spaces in L.A. Several remain there.

Babs in front of light box photos by Melanie Pullen at Ace gallery. Ace is a huge gallery, cavernous and imposing, that affords some of the photos their own private installation space. The Ace building had an elevator operator, small and missing teeth, who demanded about a foot of space around him for his comfort.

Jeff Mohr's studio in the Inglewood neighborhood of Los Angeles. Jeff showed us his work- kind of acted as a warm up for a meeting he was set to have with a curator in his studio. He also took us to a great Japanese cafe.

Chuck Moffit's studio/house in the Los Angeles hills. Chuck had all of us over for a bbq and conversation. He's currently represented by Christopher Grimes gallery and has shown at the LACMA in the exhibition Thing that got him some notoriety.

Logan watching a video art piece by Charlie White at the Hammer Museum in L.A. This exhibition attempted to show work from 9 compelling artists working in L.A.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Performatica: Performance

Here's some video and video caps of the performance. We had a disastrous tech -- a lift that crumpled, and the video wasn't working for the first 2/3 of the run-through. But the performance itself went fairly smoothly. The video wasn't really set up to capture the performance -- it's actually the video I was shooting to provide the live feed for the projection. It's very vertigo-inducing to shoot; I have to look at the projection itself to orient myself to the bodies of the performers.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Performatica: Day 1

Here are some pics from our first full day at the festival. These are from the tech rehearsal. The show itself was at the Teatro Complejo Cultural, a really terrific space at the Complejo Cultural Universitario. The other dancers in the pics are Megan Harrold, Chung-Fu Chang, Christina Mullenmeister, Cari Cunningham, and Susan Rieger's company.