Venture down the rabbit hole into PeevesPlayHAUS at Crux Space

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[Michael takes a trip to Crux Space, exploring an artist’s alter ego and the transformation of a gallery into a multicolored, multilayered, multimedia experience. — the Artblog editors]

Hidden in Kensington is a solitary building on the corner of 7th and Master, with a heavy metal door labeled in a small font, “Crux Space”. For the second exhibition at Philadelphia’s only New Media Art gallery, Martin PeevesTM installed PeevesPlayHAUS, a whimsical, digitally enhanced rabbit hole set to an 8-bit soundtrack. It is a disorienting installation that guides the viewer through a psychedelic journey.

Meeting Martin PeevesTM

PeevesPlayHAUS
Photo courtesy of Andrew Cameron Zahn.

Martin PeevesTM, one of several personas created by Ghana-born Philadelphia artist Eric Abaka, resided in Crux Space four days prior to the show’s opening on Nov. 7, 2014, working for roughly 14 hours each day to populate the space with a slew of rough, crayon-like drawings, video projections, found-object collages, and portraits sprawled across the white walls of the tightly confined space. Much of the imagery and video that Peeves manipulated for this exhibition originates from his Instagram account, where anyone can follow for quirky, daily updates of crudely drawn and assembled videos and collages, primarily featuring selfies from the artist himself.

PeevesPlayHAUS
Photo courtesy of Andrew Cameron Zahn.

To the immediate right of the entrance is a series of four large portraits of boxers–including a charcoal drawing of Andy Warhol–in Everlast gear on yellow paper. The drawings resemble banners or tapestries that you would expect to see in a high-school gym. These large posters call to mind the photographs of Warhol and Jean-Michel Basquiat in Everlast boxing equipment from 1985; similar to the photographs, Peeves’ drawings of his “Everlast Heroes,” as he calls them, command attention and dominate the space. The four heroes hang on the only wall devoid of any video projection, emphasizing their looming gaze over the entire installation.

References on references

PeevesPlayHAUS
Photo courtesy of Andrew Cameron Zahn.

The “Everlast Heroes” act as a jury critiquing the ongoing performance, so to speak, in which the artist and all spectators take part. Everyone who traverses the cluttered gallery is confronted with frantic, flashing, neon videos that envelope the viewer in the projected imagery. PeevesPlayHAUS physically imposes its presence upon the viewer while simultaneously revealing pockets of negative space in shadow that contribute to the ever-changing nature of the exhibition.

After taking in the overwhelming atmosphere, I suddenly began paying attention to what exactly it was that was being projected onto the walls. It was Martin PeevesTM himself. He edited together videos from his Instagram account and recorded his editing process, which is displayed on a series of televisions lined up against the wall. As you watch Mr. Peeves edit videos, the space features interludes of video recordings of the artist working, and goofing around.

PeevesPlayHAUS
Photo courtesy of Andrew Cameron Zahn.

The artist focuses on the process and development of his artwork to construct a narrative that he literally projects into and illustrates within the gallery space. Martin PeevesTM’s narrative tells the story of his Instagram persona, working within a space that also functions as a physical representation of the character’s Internet personality.

PeevesPlayHAUS
Photo courtesy of Andrew Cameron Zahn.

While the entire space has been transformed into a reflection of Martin PeevesTM, it can’t escape the connection to Basquiat and Warhol in artistic style. Warhol sits amongst Peeves’ “Everlast Heroes,” looking down upon PeevesPlayHAUS, an art factory in its own right that the artist has custom-fitted for Crux Space. The eclectic and interactive experience that Mr. Peeves has designed is an immersive, low-fi narrative in which anyone can easily get lost. When you happen to climb out of this rabbit hole, though, you may be a little shocked to realize that you are back on the streets of Kensington.

PeevesPlayHAUS will have its closing reception Nov. 21, 2014, at Crux Space, 700 W. Master Street, Philadelphia, PA 19122.

Tags

arts & culture, crux space, martin peevestm, peevesplayhaus, philadelphia

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