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Clash of Alternate Universes at Space 1026


Post by Dennis D’Alesandro

This month when you pull the homemade doorbell at Space 1026, you get buzzed up into Alternate Universes, a two person show featuring large installations that play off of each other, attempting to warp you far away from the hustle and bustle of Chinatown outside.

Alternate Universe 1
Gallery shot of “Alternate Universes”

The stated aim of Alternate Universes is to create a “tangible interactive setting” by which the mind can “explore ideas of the intangible such as the origins of life or the elements fundamental for creation.”

Alternate Universe 2
The work of Chelsea Coon

Entering the gallery, you are confronted with the imposing installation of Chelsea Coon, a Boston based artist. Known for her drip paintings that resemble the rich star-fields from Hubble space images, here she uses those pieces as starting points, which she then rolls around wire skeletons, making long, hollow tubes out of them. These paper tunnels then criss-cross and snake from the floor to the huge, black trash bag-covered wall. The piece is ugly, dark, and foreboding. The handling of the materials is loose, creating a cragged, interior world that seems grindingly claustrophobic. Dissonance reigns as the shiny crinkled trash bags shine behind the greyish matte tunnels. The placement of her protruding tunnels is random and feels as if they have metastasized by accident or surprise.

Alternate Universe 3
The work of Emily Bowser

As alternate counterpoint, the other installation is by artist Emily Bowser. Unlike Coon’s more literal reference to the universe and space, Bowser prefers to provoke the exploration of such subjects with object multiplication and redundant accumulations of pattern and form. Bowser is an accomplished fabric artist, whose prior work with seas of plaid patterning created intense, mathematical grid-like matrices.

Alternate Universe 5
Coon’s work as seen through Bowser’s.

If Coon’s world is raw, cragged, lugubrious, and dark, as you emerge onto Bowser’s side of the gallery you end up in a bright, airy world of colorful beams of soft fabric that seem to glow like radiating plumes of rainbow-colored light. Multicolored bands of pastel fabric are stapled to the walls of the gallery along soft, imaginary arching lines. The tautly stretched fabric bands travel in a parallel trajectory at random angles across the room, thereby creating a large web of sharp, interlaced forms. You can walk into her installation and become immersed in her playfully positive world. In fact, when Coon’s dark, ominous world is viewed from inside Bowser’s pastel beams, it feels as though you are protected and safe, inside an almost heaven-like womb.

Alternate Universe 6
The two pieces meet.

Poetically, the two opposing artworks kiss at the center point of the installation. When Coon’s trash bag wall tapers into a tongue-like arc, and as you follow the line, you slip from her world onto a curved section of Bowser’s alternate world of light. That spot where alternate universes may meet remains a mysterious, elusive, and beautiful place to contemplate.

This show will be on view at Space 1026 until July 29.