28 Jun - 03 Aug 2007
CHRIS EVANS, GERMAINE KRUIP, JIMMY ROBERT, KAREN SARGSYAN, MAAIKE
SCHOOREL, GUIDO VAN DER WERVE
This enormous ocean beast is a signifier of mythologies, organic processes, and curious associations with the aquatic domain and the eco-sphere in large. The whale, the largest mammal, exhibits power and strength, yet when in conflict with Man, it has befallen near existence and engaged in mortal rivalries (i.e. Moby Dick). It is looked upon as intelligent and wise, albeit, hapless in being pursued for now obsolete commodities; oil, meat, bone and tooth. This creature evokes the food chain and life cycle. Its gaping mouth is passage to a vast depository for almost anything in its path; fish, plankton, kelp or most any object it confronts. The interior is the realm of digestion, filtration, decay and detritus. Imagination and science lead us to think it is filled with all the components of the sea (including a temporary inhabitant named Jonah). It was at times a trophy, for example, scrimshaw or even the taxidermy whale at the center of a Natural History Museum, an extraordinary example of the 19th century oeuvre displaying nature as a menagerie of knowledge and oddity.
The artworks exhibited combine to create a dark, theatrical ambiance using the whale's dank cavity as a metaphor for the discarded, resurrected, deteriorated and nostalgic. The fifteen contemporary artists work in a variety of mediums. The arrangement unfolds as a grim, yet seductive cacophony. Each of the three galleries act as individual stage sets where the works appear as players and props in an oblique drama. The works are not specific as to topic or medium, but dovetailed into a rich ambient dialog. Here, organic meets architectural, antiquity commingles with modernity, transcendence and ossification.
The following is a cross-section of some of the artist included. Anna Craycroft exhibits classically rendered portraits of iconic orphans; Tatum O'Neal in Paper Moon or Oliver!. Daniel Wiener sculpts biomorphic abstract forms that ominously echo coral reefs or philosopher stones. Shamus Clisset employs digital medium to create a visual compression of objects and space. In Untitled (Hollow Buddha), the front and back of the Buddha meld into a cubistic vision or ameba-like form. Valerie Hagarty transports the viewer through romantic, yet macabre, sculpted trompe l'oeil. Decay and disintegration define these beautiful antiquarian objects. Video artist, John Pilson presents an eerie image of the Empire State Building filmed during the 2002 blackout as the sunsets into the un-illuminated night. Erin Waters is a vintage photography dealer and scholar. Her particular expertise is snapshot pictures taken in the early to mid 20th century. Lucky DeBellvue works with pipe cleaner and fastening devices to assemble cocoon and web-like forms. His rich color sensibility animates and enlivens these complex organic compositions.