Thursday, September 11, 2008

Road Kill

Eyedrum is full of unexpected surprises at the moment.

With Ruth Stanford's solo show of sculpture "Cryptoecology."

"Indicator Species: Hellbender (Cryptobranchus Alleganiensis"

It's not your typical ecologically-minded sculpture, but it is cryptic indeed. I left the show still trying to wrap my mind around the complex ideas Standford tackled in the show. Interesting to see, especially being in the south, the use of wall-mounted taxidermied animals as the bearers of dire environmental warnings. (Although I am guessing they were fabricated completely by hand?)

Is "Hellbender" meant to be a foreboding as I interpreted it? The skeletal plaque-mounted chicken head hold in its mouth what appear to be deflated tombstones made of a synthetic rubber material to appear like animal skin.

"Bomb Fish"

Fish heads emerge from abstracted landscape paintings that bring to mind the cheesy paintings of ducks in mid-flight usually found hanging between a couple of stuffed mallards on a hunter's den wall.

"Lily Fish"

Each mouth contains a miniature scene of a horrific event unfolding. People in space suits cleaning up a nuclear waste site or a graveyard of tombstones, or bodies on stretchers like the remains of the plague.

"Green Fish"

The fish seem to hold the future in their belly, opening their mouths as if to speak a prophecy, a warning. Ironically these fish are reduced to stuffed heads, caught, killed, and made trophies; Victims of man's growing impact on the planet.

"Forgotten Facts of Natural Ecology: Aquatics"

But just as this show tips towards becoming too preachy, too obviously dire, Stanford gives us the "Forgotten Facts of Natural Ecology" series of cement and dumptrucks spilling grey masses of food all over the ground.

"Forgotten Facts of Natural Ecology: Aquatics" - detail

These are brilliant. The monotone color stark and gloomy but rendering them monumental despite their actual sizes, as if food production on a horrifying large scale is being memorialized.

"Forgotten Facts of Natural Ecology: Terrestrial Harvest"

The sculptures are simple and abstract enough, slick in their delivery that they are as beguiling as disturbing, capturing in essence the complexity of food production in today's society.

"Forgotten Facts of Natural Ecology: Terrestrial Harvest"

Citrus fruits. Where is the artist statement for this anyway? I never came across one but you can read Cinque's Loaf-worthy thoughts on the show here.

"Forgotten Facts of Natural Ecology: Output"

In "Output" Stanford replaces the grey with the bright artificial colors of the processed pastries and doughnuts, making them stand out as disgustingly unnatural and glossy against the stark background.

The center piece of the show is a road Stanford laid down in the middle of the gallery space, covering it with brightly colored small prairie dogs which seems to be innocently sun bathing and playing around, unaware of the impending arrival of the automobile.

Is that a whippet?

While all of the work in the show contemplates a grim outlook, as with the brightly neon colored animals, Standford continuously adds into the mix an element of humor. It doesn't seem Stanford intends to hit anyone over the head with threats but instead invites the viewer in for a party, allowing them to connect the warnings.

Prairie Dog Congo line or praying to the gods?

"Cryptoecology" up at Eyedrum through October 4th 2008. Check it out.

1 comment:

Ruth said...

Jonathan - who are you?? Thanks for the nice review/synopsis of my show!