Field Trip: Art Institution Hopping

My [amazing] professor Jill Frank scheduled an array of field trips to last us from 9:30 am to 3 pm on Friday and boy was it a blast.

The day started out at the Atlanta Contemporary hearing Paul Anthony Smith talk about his process and work for the show Walls without Borders. Paul’s technique–using clay tools to puncture mounted photographs–is as much of a trademark as his brick facades overlaying most of his work.

From his talk, I gathered he had an interest in glimmers or illusions of reality as well as contained places or contained thoughts. The picking effect does affect the image in the sense of creating or altering the reality of the photograph and the brick walls can clearly emulate contained places or thoughts, but the two together are a hard match.

I am most interested in the four pieces that are picked throughout the entire image–instead of in patterns. Those four are out of a series of nine and speak to the malleable perceptions of reality and shared environmental experiences.

The show’s title is a farce in that there are layers and layers of borders within his work. His neat brick shapes are borders, the bigger picture of brick walls are a border, the edges of the photographs are borders, and the frames are borders. So there are walls with borders, and many of them. Even the paintings of brick walls are bordered by the edges of the panels and then front-bordered with bead curtains.

Our second stop was at Sandler Hudson Gallery where P. Seth Thompson met us to talk about his work and thoughts. Being a curious student, I looked up all of the work we were going to see beforehand and was a bit disappointed by Thompson’s work because it felt dated. I was hoping to hear him explain his work in a way that may contemporize it; however, he did not. His talk was certainly not aided by his reading of an ArtsATL review of his work before seeing us.

His show Insufficient Data for an Image has an overall feel of glitch art with 80s references in a 90s style. He argues that his work is about the impossibility of an inherently true image, mostly focusing on media disseminated images. This is a long time idea, as far back as Hippolyte Bayard’s photograph of his feigned suicide out of petty feelings about not being named the first inventor of photography. His work lacked a challenging perspective on the concept.

The third stop was at Jackson Fine Art where Sally Gall and Lalla Essaydi were on display. Unfortunately we did not spend any time talking about Sally Gall’s work. Her hanging laundry is shot from below, creating beautiful floral shapes while offering an unexpected view of something very familiar. The most exciting part about this part of the trip was that our tour guide pulled out some of the artists’ portfolios for us to see. Being a fan of Kahn and Selesnick, I asked to get a peek at their portfolio; I have to say my geeky curiosity was fully satisfied. Their work is fantastical and fascinating. I will never tire of their magical end-of-the-world stories.

Lastly, we zipped through Whitespace gallery’s display of Bojanna Ginn’s work. Her show features a geometrically patterned video, a couple of geometric neon light forms, a giant sheep’s wool blanket (in a geometric shape), and photographs that are dreamy washes of color. I found the juxtaposition of geometric shapes and soft organic elements intriguing; it reminds me of the geometric nature of flowers and plants despite their softness and organic beauty.

Whitespace also has a small nook called Whitespec that showcased a broken piano by Steffen Sornpao and a video running backwards of someone destroying said piano. Seeing the destruction backwards brings to light the work it takes to destroy something as well as the work that originally built it.

 

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