Altogether Ooky and/or Overstuffed

October 19, 2007

So, just to introduce some more themes here.  Hang on for the gymnastics: I’ve been thinking a lot lately about minimal vs. maximal approaches to exhibition design, and also about a goth/metal streak I see running through a lot of art lately, and about adolescence, and dread, and the materiality of the photograph as object.  (All at the same time in a really muddled way.  That’s how my brain works.)

And but so: first things first, a question: what would make one exhibition strategy “better” than another for a given body of work?  My tendency in the past has been to kitchen-sink every show I’ve been in because It Could Be My Last.  But I’ve seen shows lately at art school wherein people have chosen to fill very large rooms with small amounts of material.  The way that the art (good or bad) controls the space is fascinating to me, so (and here’s the relevant part!) I’ve bifurcated my theses into multiple parts.

Specifically, this semester, I’m trying two experiments: a minimal, restrained show in a big gallery and a total “Jason Rhoades threw up in there” wall-to-wall deal in a small gallery.  What I’m ultimately interested in is producing not Stuff but relationships between things and people, so it will be interesting to see how both things turn out.  People generally don’t think of the photo as a phenomenological object in the way they do with (big) paintings, where your relationship with the painting is almost at the level of architecture.  Bigshot techgeeks like Gursky, Wall et al. do this with photos, but unfortunately things like “reasons to look at the photograph” got lost along the way.

I’m wandering, here, but the thrust is that I’m planning on making my cluttered maximalist show out of pictures not bigger than 16×20″ for the most part.  That’s a lot of photos, but I’m just going to keep printing until I run out of paper. 

This brings me to the photos below: my friend Amy recently started a great night-time photo series, and I recently saw a small painting by Helen Verhoeven.  Both of these artists’ work packs more creepy Lynchian oof into them than any kind of giant metallic thing churned out by your standard young gallery artist.  Herhoeven’s work, especially, is a revelation.  Go have a look at Texas on her website.  Brilliant and terrifying, yes?  But these are small, calm figurative paintings. 

So I’m aiming to try to combine a Verhoeven and a Jason Rhoades strategy with photos like the one below, which I took before I knew about Amy’s series but which are the result of a simple technical mistake: when you leave the “focus” light switch on in the darkroom, everything takes on a red cast because of the red cast of color film.  So…this work is from my Goth Period.   

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