Installation art on First Friday, plus

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The installation art revival that began with the slump in the art market is going strong.

Here’s what I found Friday night:

Astrid Bowlby, in addition to her fabulous drawings–not to be missed in the front of Gallery Joe –has also created an installation in the vault there (detail shown), created of layer on layer of tiny cut-out shapes drawn in black on white paper. It’s a wow both for the way it looks and the suggestion of incredibly intensive labor in its creation.

In the Community Gallery at Nexus is William Cromar’s “halfwayhouse,” twin outline structures, one black, one white, interlocked. I liked standing in them and I liked the mind trip the piece suggests, the house shape taking me well beyond the simplistic race cooperation issue.

And down at The Painted Bride, Jeannie Yip created “Art & Lies” a grid of white muslin envelopes (you may pick one up and take it home) surrounding a video of her performance in which she cut up and sewed the room-sized dress she was wearing into the envelopes.

I turned my envelope iniside out to see if I got the word art or lie, written in white tailor’s chalk on the iside, but couldn’t see a mark, let alone a word.

The project reminded me of a domesticated version of the work of Ann Hamilton, with its repetitive tasks and its disappearing language.

Also at the Bride, Calla Thompson’s “Puff,” a pasted outline drawing on the wall with the affect of ’50s textbook illustrations but the content of some weird science experiment, packed a punch.

And I liked the reflection of Matthew Suib’s record on the wall (see upper right hand corner of image), looking much like a smoke ring, or a ring around Saturn–appropriate for a recording of sounds coming in from and going out to space.

The show at the Bride was curated by John Murphy.

And speaking of installations, the day before, at the ICA, I (and much of Philadelphia) saw Virgil Marti’s hall of mirrors, transforming the cramped ramp space there with his mylar wallpaper into a disorienting fun-house space. The silkscreen macrame spider web pattern turns into a rorschach image where the wallpaper panels meet and going up that ramp, what a long strange trip it is (Marti’s fabulous deer-antler chandeliers above are the cherry on top).

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