Friday, April 4, 2008

Mundane Momentos

Russell Maltz "Painted/Stacked (Atlanta Project)" - 2008

Trevor called me in a panic recently, wondering if I had heard anything about construction taking place in the empty metal-framed concrete pad in front of The Contemporary where he likes to photograph naked strippers for his "Man Series." He says it gets good light and "where else can you hang a man from the rafters outside?"

Russell Maltz "Painted/Stacked (Atlanta Project)" - 2008

I assured him the palettes of construction materials were actually an art installation (I mean, isn't it obvious?), though to what means I cannot say except that within a few weeks these materials would be rejoined with the construction site of one retail development or another, returning to their intended industrial purpose, the trendy neon yellow thumbprint of art painted over.

Russell Maltz "54 for Sol" Archival Inkjet Prints - 2008

Therein lies Russell Maltz's interest; "the consideration of events from concept to installation to dispersal...focusing on issues of scale, density, documentation, and systematic progressions." While I struggle to link the installations outside with the installation in the Round Gallery, I do think this is one of the better uses of the curved wall in the presentation of work that I have seen.

The photographs read as being mass produced, they're a crude reminder of the ease of bulk ink-jet printing and IKEA frames, much like the mass produced cinder blocks that are the subject of the photographs and sitting in stacks just outside.

More engaging for me is Laura Noel's series of photographs in Gallery Four. (Previous posts on Noel here & here). Taken in Cuba, these images are of faded playgrounds with a "distinct lack of children."

The Main Gallery houses the show "To Be Sung As A Round": sculpture by Anissa Mack.

Judy Linn "Untitled" - 1980/2000

One of my favorite things about the exhibition was the ingenious pairing of Mack with Judy Linn's show of photographs in the Left Gallery. (Previous post on Linn here). It seems that what Mack accomplishes with sculpture, what seemingly small cultural phenomena the work contemplates, is pondered and scrutinized in a similar vein through a camera lens by Linn. While each artists' work is an offbeat commentary they do not pass judgement, do not attempt to wheedle opinion, they simply offer up observations, anecdotes on life as we know it, with a wry smile.

"Broken Star" Machine and hand stitched denim - 2008

This is a great piece, as with all of Mack's work I feel like there is an inside joke I am not quite getting, but in a moment when female artists and textiles are all the rage, Mack takes the icon of the quilt to another dimension - star warsian monolithic.

"11th Anniversary (here and Now)" Painted Steel - 2008

Mack created this text sculpture to pose a question or poke fun at our culture's celebrating of particular milestone years (i.e. 25th anniversary, 40th birthday, etc) therefore deeming others less important. The show statement: "To make a work in celebration of the 11th year of something is to focus on the less than monumentous times, the everyday business of living."
Another thing about the Contemporary that pleases me to no end is the abundance of name labels and interesting information about various pieces posted on the wall. While this strategy is usually adopted by non-profits and museums (commercial galleries have no real financial incentive for this) it would be a better art viewing experience all round if this type of information were more accessible in all art venues.

"99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall" Digital C-Prints - 1996-Present

This is a series of photographs taken of Mack over the past decade as she gets ice out of ice-machines at various hotels across the country. Show statement: "Taken while traveling solo or with friends and family across the United States, the images speak of the loneliness, romance, indulgence, and escape that can accompany such actions."

This piece fell more flat for me as I prefer Mack's handling of a particular three dimensional object and the significance she is able to attach to something seemingly insignificant. In this photo-documentation the act of collecting ice becomes the art object but lacks the same viewer interaction which adds a level of complexity to her sculptures.

"Untitled (Pumpkin Playboy)" Painted bronze and vintage magazines - 2007

Show statement: "...these evocative objects bring to mind the physical and psychological conditions of youth including creative freedom and sexual awareness."

"Our Town" Silkscreen on digital print - 2008

It's interesting here that Mack chose to silkscreen over a digital print instead of simply scanning the original highlighted article and blowing it up.

For me, the subtle gestures in Mack's sculpture brew slowly, becoming more significant the longer they are considered. Mack takes mundane objects (such as the fruit cocktail can above) and recast them in bronze. The artist's decision to immortalize particular objects, to spend so much time musing over the objects and recreate them in more traditional art materials, becomes a riddle for the viewer to solve and an incentive to reconsider something usually overlooked.

And while I would say this show is a must see, it actually came down March 29th 2008 so all you are left with are my foe-toes. I give it a thumbs-up.


Fifth said...

These look fantastic! I can't wait to see "54 for Sol" in person!

cinque said...

Thanks, this helped me see the Mack work in a new light--i was pressed for time when i went to see it and couldn't fully contemplate it.

Jonathan said...

It reminded me of Sol's concrete tower installation at Highland and Glen Iris. A little neon paint would do wonders. It's time for a make-over.