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Domestic revisions by Christopher Lawrence at 40th St. AiR


June Cleaver is in the kitchen when the bomb goes off; the vacant house becomes lost in time.

Chris Lawrence, installation detail of half-moon counter with moonscape glop

That’s my quick take on the scenario that Chris Lawrence has built at one of the 40th Street AIR spaces (4007 Chestnut). The half-moon countertop holds a kitchen aid working a pile of irradiated cookie dough, transformed into glop. A landscape of the mountainous glop invades a window sill and lurks on the countertop.
The support for the countertop, beautifully built, ends in ragged points–a sort of spoof of rustication.

Chris Lawrence, time stands still on the power-source clock overgrown with grass. Installation detail.

All the wires, especially the ones that exit through holes in the floor, suggest there’s a non-traditional power source operating here–perhaps the earth itself. Another plug pokes into a grassy-faced clock that’s standing still–so much for sources of power.

Christopher Lawrence, detail of installation, the turntable, and the memorial candle in the KitchenAid

Amid the stillness and the silence, a mournful loop of Home on the Range whines in the background, seemingly emitted from a spinning turntable, suggesting nostalgia, lost innocence, lost childhood and lost time.

Christopher Lawrence

The regret and the man-in-the-moon weirdness is balanced by the split-level dream-house structures and remembrance of domestic safety past. When I met Lawrence to see what he had made, he talked about the inspiration of building in what was once a domestic space. But the fundamental domesticity of the space is trumped by the installation itself, which delivers a sense of loss and dislocation even as it is willing to charm with sensory pleasures and to challenge with disjunctive objects. The battle between the pristine, almost laboratory-like kitchen and the invasion of the glop (shortening and dyed sawdust), the white powder (confectioner’s sugar), and the book on sex for boys is successful and suggestive. Safe but not so safe.

Christopher Lawrence, detail of untitled installation

The construction reminded me a little of Phoebe Washburn’s survivalist landscapes, but there’s no sense of survival here, and no jury-rigged retreat from danger. Here nothing looks jury rigged, and the danger is within. It’s an interior landscape I wandered solitary, trying to decode what happened as I eyed outcroppings of invasive materials.

Yet I liked being there, so beam me up, Scotty.