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Weekly Update — Vox Populi’s Members’ Puzzles


This week’s Weekly has my review of Vox Populi’s December shows. Below is the copy with some pictures and added words. See Libby’s post for more about the show.

Vox Populi’s December members’ show is a conceptual outing that—with the exception of Amy Adams’ sparse but evocative “Our Boat That Is Made of Flowers”—is totally puzzling.

The newly married Adams is the former executive director of Vox and now works as the director of Fleisher-Ollman Gallery. Her installation is about power, love, war and peace, triggered by her recent honeymoon to Europe where she saw many old paintings of battle scenes and power brokers. Adams’ installation has two parts: a video animation of ocean waves abstracted from a maritime battle painting, and two portraits comprised of words from emails between the artist and her then-fiance.

The animation extracts the ships, smoke, guns and combatants from the original scanned painting and leaves only the waves that she set in motion. Because her source material is a scanned book plate of a painted sea and lacks color, the waves feel unreal – more like a sea of oatmeal than water. But the undulations still invoke seasickness. The idea of a woman editing the Old Masters, grabbing power from the powerful, is irresistible.

IMG_9008 Amy Adams
Amy Adams, Our Boat That Is Made Of Flowers pair of portraits of the bride and groom. Photo by Libby.

Adams’ two word portraits, framed and leaning against the wall, are clearly the products of laborious attention to detail. The task of cutting and pasting the words from each email into a “his” and “hers” Word document then sorting the words alphabetically seems an almost crazy thing to do. You can’t boil down a conversation between two people in love to the sum of its parts and have it make sense, can you? Shockingly, the portraits do seem to work that way. The bubbly Adams’ portrait is twice as long as her husband’s and who’s to say that’s not capturing some kernel of truth.

While Adams’ pieces are very straightforward in their meaning, the rest of the show provides a challenge for casual viewers.

Corey Antis, Herman Street, 2008. Acrylic, flashe on paper. 18 x 24 inches
Corey Antis, Herman Street, 2008. Acrylic, flashe on paper. 18 x 24 inches

Corey Antis’ small works on paper circle the first room. The pieces look similar to sketches, plans or architectural drawings. Washy and with surprising colors—salmon and black in one piece—the series suggests ongoing research. Ultimately, the works are puzzles too personal to be compelling.

Anna Neighbor
Anna Neighbor, Hold Me Like You Mean It, 2008
Archival inkjet print
33 x 50 inches

Anna Neighbor’s large photo-based works also allude to something more. One photo is almost entirely black. Former Voxers Justin Witte and Olivia Schreiner’s collaboration in the guest gallery is a disappointment compared to their past outings, and Rebekah Tolley’s slow-motion videos projected on objects are reminiscent of lava lamps. Meanwhile, Mark Lewis’ video North Circular in Screening has cinematic chops that create a sense of mystery, beauty, suspense and denouement. (View it at his website).

“Vox Populi December Members Show.”
Through Dec. 28.
Vox Populi, 319 N. 11th St., third fl.