Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Exurb Plums the Nation's Memories

by Robert Boyd

Back on November 18, the Joanna opened their latest show, Dis, Dat, Deez, Doz. I'm not sure if it was a one-night only thing or if it's going to stay up. Hopefully the latter. It was a great, if somewhat overwhelming, show. Art was crammed into every nook and cranny.

One piece that stood out was the sculpture by Exurb. The piece, whose name I can't remember (and which hadn't been finalized by the members of Exurb on the night of the show), consisted of four movie projectors (three 16 mm and one 8 mm) each projecting four film-loops onto four panes of glass and a white screen behind the panes of glass.

Exurb
Exurb, four-projector memory machine, projectors, wood, steel, film, 2011

The films had been discovered on eBay. They were all vacation films taken in the 60s, as far as Exurb could tell. They were projected onto the somewhat dirty windows in a back-facing room at the Joanna. About three or four feet behind the windows was a fence with a white sheet on it to act as the screen. The plane of focus was set for the windows--the "screen" was just a blur. But because the windows were pretty dirty, you could see the content of the films quite well on the windows,




Their last big piece, Input/Output, involved combining old technology (vacuum tubes) with modern technology (digital imaging). This time around, they stuck with ancient technology. Also, this time they didn't build the device from scratch. The projectors are manufactured objects. The only tweak they made was to not use the take-up reel but instead to build large tape loops.

Of course, there were technical problems with the loops that had to be fixed on the fly.

Exurb
Patrick Renner tightens a bolt on a film loop reel

Exurb
Johnny Di Blasi splices a broken film loop

I had recently seen Free Radicals: A History of Experimental Film when I saw this show. I had also seen the Stan VanDerBeek show at CAMH in May. Obviously I couldn't look at Exurb's new work without thinking about the various innovators of underground film. But they were doing their experiments in the 60s (or earlier). So Exurb, both in the choice of films they used and in the choice to use film at all, were dealing with nostalgia. There was a time when the clackity-clack noise of a film projector signified modernity--now it is quaint and old-fashioned. The whole notion of experimental film (as opposed to video) is old fashioned. And I think this idea of looking back with longing, or nostalgia, is embedded in the work.


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Monday, November 28, 2011

Is the Houston Chronicle's Art Critic Trying to Get Himself Fired?

by Robert Boyd



Douglas Britt-Darby (née Douglas Britt) is apparently trying real hard to get himself fired by The Houston Chronicle. Evidently he would like to use the newspaper as a forum to speak truth to power in Houston, as they say. The Houston Chronicle has long an instrument of power in Houston. It was bought by Jesse H. Jones in 1926, then ownership was transferred to the Houston Endowment in 1937. The Houston Endowment was Jones's own personal non-profit. The Houston Endowment exists today as a grant-making non-profit endowment. Glasstire is a Houston Endowment grantee, for example. So speaking truth to power has never really been The Chron's thing.

Somehow, this is all connected to an extended roadtrip Britt-Darby will be taking, and to his personal history as an escort. I don't quite understand the connection, but I suspect all will be revealed on his video-blog, Reliable Narratives. One thing he wants to know is, does his past as an escort (and a tweaker) make you think differently about his criticism? In other words, do you think his criticism is less valid if you know this part of his personal history? But writers often have complicated personal histories (see The Night of the Gun by David Carr, for example), so why should it? The work is what counts.

Update: The Houston Press reports that Britt has been let go by the Chronicle for the duration of his road trip/performance, but is free to reapply for the job when he gets back.


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Sunday, November 27, 2011

A Painterly Show at Box 13: Dutch Invasion

by Robert Boyd

Four of the five artists in Dutch Invasion at Box 13 are painters (Maarten Demmink, aka Demiak, is the odd man out). But it's not enough to say that they are painters. They are very painterly painters. The primary reason for their painting is to be paintings. Paint is the expressive medium. It isn't used ironically. That's kind of refreshing.

When I look at these painters, I think of the painters that came to prominence in the UK in the late 50s and 60s. The big two are Francis Bacon and Lucien Freud, but the ones that I see the most echoes of in this show are Frank Auerbach, Leon Kossoff, and Howard Hodgkin (and perhaps a hint of R.B. Kitaj).

Hans de Bruijn
Hans de Bruijn, Rothko I, oil on canvas, 2008

This enormous portrait of Mark Rothko by Hans de Bruijn places Rothko in a seascape. De Bruijn states that his portraits of painters try to place them in the environment they painted. I had never thought of Rothko paintings as seascapes, but I can see how that could work. Several other van Bruijn works in the show were also seascapes.

This painting is enormous--6' 7" tall--and the angle that looks up slightly at Rothko's gives it a monumental quality. The thick impasto reminds one of Kossoff and Auerbach. The palette, however, brings to mind certain Rothkos.

I think art that references art history is problematic. It ends up being a circular conversation within a field as opposed to an attempt to speak to the broader culture. De Bruijn sees himself within the painterly Romantic tradition, and his portraits are of artists he identifies as being in that tradition--Caspar David Freidrich, Monet (seems like a stretch to me, but at the same time, one can see him as being a predecessor), Pollock and Rothko. I can't deny I like this painting very much, even if it is art about art.

Christine Bittemieux
Christine Bittremieux, Untitled, oil on canvas, 2009

Another painter in the group whose work recalls English painting is Christine Bittremieux. The artist whose work Bittermieux's reminds me of is Howard Hodgkin. Hodgkin's work is reputedly based on real scenes, but I've never quite been able to figure them out. To me, the work feels abstract. Bittremieux writes that her approach is highly formalist, but at the same time her pieces are landscapes. Not actual landscapes, but landscape-like forms arising from the process of laying down brushstrokes. But it's these brushstrokes that remind me of Hodgkins--transparent, filled with not quite mixed paint, the bristles visible.

Anna Bolten
Anna Bolten, not sure of the title, oil on canvas

Anna Bolten uses photographs to make multipaneled compositions. These paintings seem of all the paintings in the show the most stereotypically Dutch--not because they recall earlier Dutch painting, but because they contain images that are associated with Holland. Cows, flat green landscapes, flowers. I keep expecting to see a windmill. Her adjustments to the photos, softening the edges and departicularizing them, exaggerates the "Dutch-ness" of the subjects. I'm able to fill them in with images of Holland. Now I've been to the Netherlands--I know these stereotypes are just that. But they have a strong hold on the imagination.

Jessica Muller
Jessica Muller, two paintings, oil on canvas

Jessica Muller seems the least "English" and simultaneously the least "Dutch" of all the painters in the show. Her abstract paintings remind me of abstract expressionist work and its descendents--a style rooted in the U.S. but in some ways universal.But what she does in these two that is interesting is that she underlays the expressionist brushmarks with repeating, hand-painted patterns--hexagons and squares. It's as if she painted them on tiles.

Demiak

Demiak, Deepwater Horizon 1, inkjet print, 2010

Maarten Demmink (aka Demiak) is the only non-painter in the show. It's funny, though. When I walked into the exhibit and glanced at this work, I thought it was a painting. It was only after taking a longer look did I realize that it was a photograph. As photographs go, it's quite painterly. And Demiak was a painter. He moved on to making super-detailed realistic models, setting them up in dioramas, and photographing them. All the photos in this show deal with the Deepwater Horizon oil rig disaster--he imagines oil seeping into the swampy backlands (imagine starting from Houma and setting out into the swamp in your bass boat). They are remarkable illusions (although he does make the cypress stumps so huge they look like rock formations).

Demiak
Demiak,Telephone Poles (from the Call Me series), wood and iron, 2011

His concern with the Deepwater Horizon series is environmental. (Later pictures of the series depict the swamp as a crud-covered post-apocalyptic environment.) But his interest in shacks like this apparently derives from a long-standing interest in the U.S. south.

Demiak
Demiak, Deepwater Horizon 2, inkjet print, 2010

They are fascinating to look at. There is something about a realistic scale model that appeals to a lot of people (like me). Obviously in popular culture, we think of model train enthusiasts, makers of Revell scale models, or dollhouses. (The interest in scale models as a general category doesn't seem to be limited to either sex.) But until recent decades the art world hasn't really been interested in such things. But with artists like Charles LeDray and the Chapman brothers (and locally, Seth Mittag), the idea of creating scale model tableaux is having its day. A group show of such work would be truly interesting.

When I showed up at this show on the evening of ArtCrawl, there was hardly a soul there. One theory was that it was too far off the beaten path for ArtCrawl, and besides, by 7 pm, art crawlers were pretty exhausted. (I know I was.) Another theory was that because it was not a show of local artists, you didn't have the usual families-and-friends crowd. Well, that's no excuse people! Come see this show. The artists will be visiting and giving a panel discussion on December 10, which would be a good time to check it out.


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Friday, November 25, 2011

Note on FotoFest International Discoveries III

by Robert Boyd

The show up at Fotofest right now, International Discoveries III, is full of interesting and sometimes quite powerful photos. (The photos of Dana Popa are especially rough sledding emotionally.) The show is quite large--you really have to explore every nook and cranny of their building. Two of the photographers I really liked were Francesco Giusti and Julia Curtin.

Francesco Giusti
Francesco Giusti, Caprice, Member of SAPE (Société des Ambianceurs et des Personnes Élégantes), Pointe Noir, Republic of Congo, Archival Inkjet Print, May 2009

Giusti has a series of photographs of members of Société des Ambianceurs et des Personnes Élégantes (SAPE). This is a club in Congo of men who devise these crazy elegant suits for themselves. Each one "has his own repertory of gestures that distinguish each one from all the others."

Francesco Giusti
Francesco Giusti, Mabios de M'Paka', Member of SAPE (Société des Ambianceurs et des Personnes Élégantes), Pointe Noir, Republic of Congo, Archival Inkjet Print, May 2009

What appeals about these photos is the the outfits, the over-the-top dandyism of them, and the contrast between them and the relative shabbiness of the settings. I often feel that there is something silly about dandies, but I see the point here. They create a tiny bubble of elegance within an environment lacking in elegance due to its general poverty. Maybe that is the right way to think about dandyism. A dandy creates his own reality, which may be quite at odds with the reality of his everyday life and environment. That difference may not be physical--it could be a difference in attitudes. It's quite the opposite of people who pride themselves on their gritty authenticity--and the question is, is one attitude (dandyism) any better or worse than another (authenticity). Or, to put it another way, is a dandy less authentic than someone who wears his authenticity on his sleeve?

Julia Curtin

Julia Curtin

Julia Curtin
Julia Curtin, from Resettlement series, 2009

Julia Curtin used modern technology to look at old photos, specifically photos of sharecroppers shacks from the depression. As far as I can understand, she took the photos, which were taken at 3/4 views of some type, and reconstructed what each side would look like using computer software. Then she created these images, which could be used as plans for reconstructing these previously un-planned, vernacular buildings. I'm not sure why this appeals to me so much, but I really liked them. In a way, I feel a little guilty for likeing them. They take photos that had powerful social content and turn them into architectural abstractions. And maybe that's what you are supposed to think about--how images can bring you closer to a social or political or psychological reality or pull you away from it, depending on the approach taken by the artist.

The show as a whole is quite good--well worth checking out.


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Thursday, November 24, 2011

Moving toward the Office Light

By Dean Liscum

Fluorescent lights.

If someone utters that phrase to me in the context of Houston's art scene, I think of Dan Flavin's installation at The Menil's Richmond Hall or James Turrell's The Light Inside at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.

Fluorescent lights.

If someone utters that phrase to me in the context of work, I flashback to a windowless office I used to occupy in which even the plastic plants wilted.

Fluorescent lights.

In this context, it's actually the medium in Curt Gambetta's Office Light showing at the Lawndale Arts Center from November 18, 2011 through January 7, 2012.  The installation in the Mary E. Bawden Sculpture Garden is twelve 2' x 4' LED office lights in a ceiling grid with a perimeter of 18' x 28'. The structure has a height of 6' which causes the bottom of the light boxes to hover approximately 5 1/2' above the ground.


This design repels most viewers, causing them to skirt the installation.


However, some viewers move toward the office light.



The light sculpture crowds out the cosmos. It illuminates those that inhabit its space. Man-made light sources dominate the nocturnal urban landscape. The light leaks, pools, seeps into the furthest corners of the city. Halogen halos line the streets and form islands in parking lots. Walls of fluorescent light spill from empty office buildings and saturate the side walks and side streets. The artificial light is ubiquitous. It pervades the predawn hours of the sleepwalkers and night workers.

As a "profoundly ambivalent medium of Urban experience" (to quote Gambetta), artificial light has become part of the mythology of modern life like a jet plane's shadow passing over us or an ostensibly profound revelation transmitted by our radios as they automatically scans the stations.


We don't know if they are ominous or auspicious, and we're left contemplating our own luminescent blue aura and it's meaning.


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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Artcrawl 2011

by Robert Boyd

Among the artists and art scenesters of Houston, there is a feeling about Artcrawl of "why bother?" The art that gets shown in the spaces in the warehouse district is not all that interesting (your mileage may vary, of course) and tends to feel the same every year. Even a good artist like John Runnels shows the same pieces every year.

But Artcrawl, like the Bayou City Art Festival, is important. It's one of the few times each year that a LOT of Houstonians get out to look at art. And Artcrawl has some advantages over the Bayou City Art Festival--the art is mostly by local artists at Artcrawl, and it has an altogether grungier, more bohemian aspect to it. Not only that, you can hear live music at the Last Concert Cafe...



Or in other nooks and crannies along the crawl, such as Atelier Jacquinet...



The disadvantages are obvious--when you see so much artwork at once, you get art fatigue. In a rush to get through, you might overlook someone who'd doing good work. And there are problems with the crawl--some of the venues are really far away and hard to get to, especially if your energy starts to flag or you run out of time.

Anyway, I started at The Foundry, a group of studios north of I-10 just under the Elysian Street Viaduct. I always start here because they let UH students show work, which means that there is often something fresh--at least something you didn't see last year.


obelisk by Daniel Adame

I don't know what the name of this piece by Daniel Adame is, but I like the idea of making an obelisk out of old crappy weathered wood planks.


two paintings by Tangerine Williams

These two self-affirming paintings by Tangerine Williams made me laugh. I love the combination of the blunt statement (a statement one would only make if one weren't really all that sure) with the simple child-like smiley-face portraits. Indeed, the smiley faces are almost something a teacher would stick on your test when you got a good score--another affirmation. And what's most funny is that there are two of them. I'm not sure how much irony is here, or if this was the result of a long dark night of self-doubt. Either way--I like them.



Then I went to North Main Auto, which appeared to be a new entry on the Artcrawl map. But there was not much there--apparently they were going to have a party later in the evening, but for now it was an empty, abandoned store with one piece of artwork sprawled in the corner.


sculpture by Bobby Kaloor

The piece is apparently by Bobby Kaloor. As for the space, the story I got was that Avenue CDC was trying to get the owner to let them have it as a community art space. But the guy I talked to admitted that this was unlikely. Even though it has been empty for years, there are great expectations for increased real estate values once the North Line light rail is finished and the Quitman station opens.


The Silo (4601 Hirsch)

I knew nothing about the Silo when I drove out there. It took me a while to actually find it. It's in a highly industrial neighborhood on Clinton just north of the ship channel. (Weirdly enough, just south of Clinton from it is a tiny residential subdivision, As I was looking for the Silo, I drove into this subdivision, where I witnessed police handcuffing some poor schmuck. Lovely neighborhood.)

Finally I realized that the Silo was the decrepit-looking building that I had thought was abandoned as I drove by. I parked next to a food truck--delicious barbeque smells were coming out of it. I went inside to this big dark warehouse. It was quite cluttered. To my right was a room closed off with a hanging black curtain--a sign next to it announced a schedule of films being shown through the day. Apparently a film was being showed at that moment. I didn't want to interrupt, so I continued to a lighted office that had this sign on the outside:



I went to into the office, where two guys were huddled around computers. I said hello, and they responded amiably enough but didn't offer anything beyond a greeting. On the walls were several bad paintings with ridiculous prices on the labels beneath them. I checked out the website later--it is kind of a utopian techno-communist movement. Later that evening, I was having a conversation with someone who suggested we could get by without money through some system of volunteer labor. I asked him if he would volunteer to work in the mercury mines. I guess the Zeitgeist people would say, robots would do all the mercury mining while the rest of us only do work we felt passionate about. Sign me up!

I then went outside into one of the two courtyards. With the high concrete walls, this part of the Silo looked like a prison, but the abandoned nature of it gave it kind of a Mad Max vibe--which was accentuated by the junked remains of old art cars that littered the yard.





And the complex was big--there were a couple of large courtyard-type enclosures and a big paved back area--all filled with rusty old art cars.







As I wandered through this wasteland, I only saw one other person, who looked just as perplexed as I was. The whole time I was there, the facility was being buzzed by a helicopter.



So what is the Silo? They have a Facebook page which isn't terribly informative. Later that night, as I was telling someone about the Silo, a young woman interrupted and said she had been to raves there in the past.

After that, I went over to Commerce Street, where there were a few studios open. One was the Gribble Stamp Warehouse, where Sketchy Neighbors had a show up. As I understand it, the studio they were using belongs to artist Joseph Blanchard. He and Sketchy Neighbors had a show up on the theme of time travel-- which wasn't all that obvious. What was obvious was that all the pieces were doors of some kind.


a piece by Joseph Blanchard


Brenda Cruz, Altered


Jordan Johnson, skatethepast

Next stop was Diverse Works, which has a show up that I didn't think much of. See Dean Liscum's review--he was a little more gentle than I would have been, but basically we're on the same page. In the same building is Howard Sherman's studio, which was open that evening.



That's Sherman with a giant mound of tape, blinking his eyes.

I crossed under I-10 into the belly of the beast, the central studios of Artcrawl.This is the part that art scenesters hate the most--it's crowded, parking is difficult, etc. I swept through Mother Dog Studios and didn't see much new (that said, I think there are a lot of good artists at Mother Dog Studio). Then I went into the studios that are catty-corner to Mother Dog. I'm not sure what they are called, but it's always a crowded madhouse in there. There is too much art to absorb, and most of it is terrible. It's nice when you come across pieces that seem restful and uncrowded, like these three by Alex Wilhite.



But that was an oasis in the desert of visual clutter.

Next to these studios is Cardoza Gallery, site of a recent Mark Flood exhibit and formerly known as the Temporary Space. Chris Cascio had some paintings up in a back room.


three Chris Cascio paintings

I liked the one on the right enough to buy it--my sole Artcrawl purchase. I thought that'd be my last art purchase of the year, but Art Palace is having its own "Black Friday" sale which looks like it may be too good to pass up.)

I then hit a couple of more studios in the neighborhood, but nothing caught my eye. However, I ran into several people I know, including a friend from B-school who I haven't seen since school. He works here in town for a major French bank and told me that all the traders there had been laid off that week. But he was felt pretty secure and had decided to come out and check out the art. This might have been his only art event of the year, for all I know. I hope he checked out Chris Cascio's art, and Sketchy Neighbors, and FotoFest (which has a great International Discoveries show up) and Box 13--which all had some of the best work at Artcrawl.

I ended the evening at Box 13, whose Dutch Invasion show was both excellent and sparsely attended. But it will be up for a while, so you still have a chance to see it. There were a few other East End studios I missed--but by the time I got to Box 13, I was pooped. Maybe next year!


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Sunday, November 20, 2011

What They Are Saying About West Oaks Mall

by Robert Boyd

This weekend was busy--a new show at Lawndale, a big show at The Joanna, Art Crawl. I was curious to hear what Houston's artists thought about the potential West Oaks Mall art space. Here is my beer-fogged recollection.

Mark Flood was predictably skeptical. To paraphrase him, he said how can they expect to fill 22 Lawndales with art when they can't even fill one? He basically expressed doubt that Houston's artists and curators could step up, which is a concern that many people have expressed. He suggested that Sharon Engelstein might be able to fill the space with art that didn't get lost. However, despite his skepticism, he seemed willing to entertain the possibility of success, suggesting that if Dia Beacon could do it, maybe we could too.

Daniel Heimbinder came up with an idea for an installation that I frankly considered stealing from him. Air dancers.

Aim High Moonwalks

Air dancers, aka skydancers, would be used to fill the interior space of the old J.C. Penney's. Hundred of them. The blowers would be so loud, it'd be like being in a jet engine. The spastic air dancers would have such frenetic, jerky motions, they could cause seizures. And as an installation, it would be an apt comment on the space itself, a mall on the desolate retail landscape of Highway 6.

At the Box 13 opening for Dutch Invasion, Paul Middendorf described being contacted by Sharston Plenge--the organizer of the West Oaks Mall art space--and being a bit suspicious at first. He wondered what Plenge, a Californian artist, was doing sniffing around Houston non-profits. (Mark Flood also wondered about the ulterior motive--but to me the ulterior motive is not hidden at all: Pacific Retail Capital Partners wants artists to help increase the visibility and desirability of West Oaks Mall. Their exit strategy is always to sell the property--that's the business they are in.) However, after Middendorf heard a first hand report of the space, he was more open to the possibilities and spoke of a similar large building that was handed over to Portland, Oregon, arts groups for temporary use.

Jonathan Leach instantly honed in on the problem of making effective use of 100,000 square feet. His suggestion? Sound stages for film and video students. Of course sound stages aren't cheap, but with two of the primary expenses--the building itself and the utilities--paid for, any use of the space is already heavily subsidized.

Rachel Hecker focused on practical issues. She said everyone has ideas about the space, so there needs to be a "think tank" or conference where all potential stakeholders get together and thrash out a plan. No one person or art organization can make this happen. Thinking about such a conclave, I can envision it having all the faults of committee-think (lack of boldness, conventionality, compromise that destroys any visionary thinking, sluggishness, jockeying for power, etc.). Making sure that a committee didn't succumb to group-think would be one of the big challenges. Hecker also suggested that the space be split between studio space/residencies and exhibition space. The former would guarantee that the building would be in constant use.

So Pan readers--what do you think should be done with 100,000 square feet of air-conditioned space in West Oaks Mall?


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My Life as a Doll. Feminism for the Mall

by Dean Liscum

Like all works of art, "My Life as a Doll" by Tara Conley and Tria Wood has a specific audience and for two reasons, it's not me. One is because my insurance company won't cover the medical cost that I would incur to become a member of their primary audience. Plus, I can't afford the surgery and a closet full of shoes by Manolo Blahnik and Jimmy Choo. (Why would anyone go under the knife to wear sensible shoes and support hose?) Two is because I know that third-wave feminism is not a surfing fade and am vaguely aware of issues of gender politics.

In other words, women (or men) who embody the principles of contemporary feminism and are well-versed in gender studies and gender politics, are not the audience of this work. I know this because I asked a lot of women at the show after I walked through it. The responses fell into two categories: those that thought the message of the show was "obvious," and those who didn't and said things like "I think that every day" and "That's my life."

The conceit of the installation is that it's a life-size doll house. To fully experience it, you sit on the Booty Bench, and booty up.

audience members put their booty on the bench and
then put booties over their shoes

booty-ed guests
Once bootied, you walk through the house. The door mat says "Telling the truth in an imaginary place." The house's basic layout is dining room, garden, party room, gargantuan closet, bedroom but oddly enough no kitchen. The rooms are furnished with emblematic furniture or props, which highlight Conley's extraordinary talent as a sculpture and her aesthetic. The story of dolls life is literally written on the walls of this house. Using dialog balloons, Woods has written out Doll's life in iambic pentameter. Text also appears as part of the wall paper on some of the rooms, as labels on clothes in the closet, and as captions on the mirrors. Phrases like "I remember the silent I love yous," "the way we never were," and "perfect is expensive" are some of the truths you encounter in this imaginary place.

The color palette of the entire is house is Barbie-brilliant as if the fictional interior designer of this house is attempting to combat domestic dysfunction with cheerful colors. So if you're depressed or hung over or both, I recommend wearing your rehab glasses.

Honey Table and Chair
Even nature is outdone as the garden is full of Conley's vibrant raw cotton and metal stemmed flowers.

the garden


The closet is chock full of clothing labeled for each occasion such as "decide and don't look back panties" and "it's nice to be seen slacks"...more simple truths brutally, plainly stated.

dresses in the closet with labels such as 
The tentacled dress is the center-piece of the closet. On a runway in Paris or New York, I might dismiss it as fanciful fashion. In Doll's house, I can't help but see only attachment issues.

tentacled dress
The "cock & tail" party room comes replete with silhouettes of both and a sound track.

Tria Woods giving a tour of the "cock & tail" room
The bedroom contains a "princess bed" with a cage, a sword, a pair of hand cuffs in which the chain spells out "I need you to be with me" and the border is a stencil of the same handcuffs. This isn't a kinky sex playroom. It's a chamber for captive sex via metal clasps and co-dependence.


My favorite part is the most meretricious, the mirrors. They have the silver egoistic flash inherent in mirrors but are subtlety undermined by sometimes comic, sometimes cutting text.

the mirrors are mounted outside the house
It's really hard for me to turn down attention.
I DON'T LIKE WHAT YOUR FACE IS SAYING
I heard a few criticisms that can be summed up in one interjection, "Duh!" And that's true if this installation is addressing cutting-edge feminism of 2011. Given the fact that it debuted at DiverseWorks, I understand the expectation that it would, but it doesn't. However, I do think it contributes to the conversation. Two essays about the show, one by Susie Kalil and one by curator Diane Barber, address how it does much better than I ever could. Craft and context accumulate to convey decades-old feminist conventions, that if you have spent any time in pop-culture, (I think) obviously and forcefully bear repeating...often and in garish colors with a biting sense of humor. And that's exactly what "My Life as a Doll" does.

Conley and Woods plan to take this installation on the road. Personally, I hope they take it to a mall near me such as the Galleria or First Colony. In that context, I think it would be revelatory.


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