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Slought gets down

goettnersigns Post by Colette Copeland


Slought Gallery‘s “Back to the Front: Emerging Artists” exhibition, deviates from the gallery’s mission, which is to engage philosophical and theoretical concerns with contemporary art practice. The result–the emerging/emerged artist show is one of the most visually accessible exhibitions to date.

kostianovskyhairmapHighlights include Tamara Kostianovsky‘s “Hair Map” (image right), previously exhibited in the Window on Broad Street. Human hair ‘populates’ an outline of the United States, mounted on Plexi-Glas to create a three-dimensional, visceral quality. The work lends itself to many interpretations, leaving the viewer to ponder implications of DNA testing, population census and national identity.

voltaairplanehymnBen Volta’s video “Airplane Hymn” (image left), depicts a group of people pelting a woman with paper airplanes. The setting is a corporate lobby with high, vaulted ceilings and floor to ceiling windows. Standing stoically still, the woman is holding a clear plastic umbrella, apparently oblivious to the bombardment/attack. The paper airplanes sound like bombs or gunshots as they hit the floor. The tonal underscore evokes an apocalyptic feeling. The scene is both absurd and disturbing.

hujusttellingOther highlights include Joseph Hu’s ephemeral images entitled, “Just Telling Me, He Tells Me” (image right), Jennifer Goettner’s ironic “Signs of Life: Iconography of Urban Gestures” (image top of post), Jessica Mein’s delicate deconstruction/ reconstructions of text entitled, “Calvino-Senhor Palomar Series,” Mauro Zamora’s painting, “Yellow is the Color of Death” (image below left) and T.C. Moore’s reverberating sound piece, “That Which is Known & Unknown.”

zamorayellowdeathA final quibble: Emerging artist is one of those nebulous terms bantered about in the art world. Many artists (myself included) wonder when the magnanimous shift occurs from emerging to established. Is it possible for an artist to be emerging for the duration of her/his career? Reviewing the roster of artists in the show, many are well known in the Philly art scene, if not at the national or international level.

Colette Copeland teaches at the University of the Arts and the University of Pennsylvania