Big is what the Ice Box exhibition space requires. CONSTRUCT, CFEVA‘s show there, delivers the goods.
New York artist Jennifer Williams’ installation photographs splayed on the gallery walls are spectacular. The one resting in a corner delights with the way it engages the viewer physically in its vertiginous urban spaces, delivering a sensation of instability, and at the same time trumpeting the architectural triumphs of the cityscape. The cityscape is a big theme in this show, from Arden Bendler Browning’s now familiar mural-size urban swirls, to Tim Portlock’s digital urban disaster zones, to Noah Addis’ Trump Plaza towering over urban decay (a straightforward photo).
The vulnerability of buildings becomes a metaphor for the vulnerability of living things in this show. And that’s part of Allison Kaufman’s subject–the human need for companionship and loving care, in a series of five silent video loops by the New York artist. Her horizontal lineup of the video screens add up to a strong presence in the Gray Area foyer to the Ice Box. The tactility of a man braiding a woman’s hair or a young woman shaving an elderly man deliver the intimacy between people and show up-close people’s physical and emotional vulnerability. The intimate scale of the videos seems just right given the subject matter–at home with our good friend the telly.
Death and denial are what make Kimberly Witham’s beautiful still-lifes serious. Previously I had dismissed them as slight, based on Internet images. But with a look in the real world, I’m all aboard. These C-prints of road kill in decorative settings hark to the Vanitas tradition and William Harnett’s dead-critter still-lifes all gussied up with Ann Craven-like wallpaper paintings. The fiercest of Witham’s photos, Still Life with Steak and Fox, conflates beauty with bestiality, the red meat a perverse splash of delicious red caught on a hook!
My other favorite of hers is a pair of squirrels floating in front of a blue sky filled with a pattern of white puffy clouds. The giddiness of the squirrels dancing in their blue heaven almost–but not quite–overcomes the questions of how dead the squirrels are–and how far we can delude ourselves as we enjoy their–and our–dance of death.
Installation and lighting conditions in the Gray Area take a toll on two video pieces. I had trouble seeing Bohyun Yoon’s marvelous Sound of Helmet Instrument, a video of a sort of tea ceremony with glass teapot-helmets, and Ana B. Hernandez’s Still Life With Figs, a projection of a performance with a lineup of sexy fruits.
Others in the show are Lewis Colburn (I missed his performance), Don Edler, Laureen Griffin, Jordan Griska (his Oil Barrel), Mami Kato, Daniel Kornrumpf, Maggie Mills and Alison Stigora. The exhibit had a full house opening night.
The exhibition is open to June 29, 2011.