January 2017 FFAT
The second show in a series, the curated exhibition “$#&% I Made Today, No. 2” opened at Gallery 5&J this Friday’s FFAT. Curated by Hannah Dean and Jon Whitfill (full disclosure: Hannah showruns The Bowerbird), the show features work made by twenty selected Texas artists in the 24 hours prior to the opening, and the show’s theme and medium d’etre is fabric. As it did last time, the exhibition serves to create a patch of common ground from which each artist grows a work according to his or her own vision in the confine of a single day—this has the effect of removing the more typical refinement of each artist’s work and presenting it to the viewer as the artist initially created it.
Machine that un-knits a scarf, Harrison Brooks
Harrison Brooks’ “Machine that un-knits a scarf” does exactly this: a scarf pinned to the wall in the same way that worms or frogs are pinned to the rubber mat in a high school biology lab is slowly disassembled by needles on a timed motor. The irony exists in perfectly utilitarian (non-arty) systems, of course, but in the gallery context a man-made machine breaking up, analyzing, a textile becomes more question-laden and contemplative than usual. Don’t think too hard about the manmade thing eating the manmade thing or you’ll be overcome by a casual, sneaking nihilism.
Dream Fragments, Kathy Kelley
Kathy Kelley’s “Dream Fragments” are bizarrely, comically compacted figures, each consisting in a hanger holding a pair of panty hose whose torso and feet are filled and weighted with a ‘mattress ball’, a ball of course cotton textile gleaned from the inside of mattresses and formed into spheres. Readable as a spherical body with two gigantic *ahem* globes, or alternately as a head and two feet, the mattress balls (in context, a seeming proxy for sleep) create a literal ‘homebody’ of each set of pantyhose. Here especially the medium is the message; our homes are us, and the things that make us are the things that surround us, here in Kelley’s work domestically.
Tuft Shirts, Zach Morriss
The name of Zach Morriss’ triptych “Tuft Shirts” needs little explanation. Mens’ dress shirts with ties are wrapped to form a pillow shape and the center is tufted. To what degree this was the intent is uncertain, but the shirts look disconcertingly like a bullet hole through the heart of the poor fellow counterfactually wearing the shirt. To nest something as violent as an execution by firearm inside the cutesy domesticity of a tufted pillow is jarring, and I’m not sure to what end.
C.A.S.P. artist in residence Alberto Careaga presented 4 new collage works this first Friday that present an evolutionary distillation of his previously presented, and much larger, sculptural works. Each of the four presents prints of color fields, unidentifiable textures, or heavily modified photos of walls or other architectural elements. The forms sit on white sheets affixed to the wall, nesting them within their own white cube in miniature.
Each piece depicts some ‘space’, ambiguously a room or house or even a block of spaced drawn from one of these. They appear either as a solid or as layers physically correlated to suggest a solid. These layers, resembling shavings of the space, accomplish something remarkable. They decompose the space by an infinitely small amount; a real space with an infinitesimal sliver removed is still the entire space. The shaving, while not a space, originates in the space and is therefore an (infinitely small) part of it. If the space hasn’t been altered by removal of a shaving, what was the role of that shaving? If added back, the sliver would disappear into the space, so how much of a space must be removed for the space to change? These works further reduce the core questions Careaga addresses in his work; how space, place, and home interplay.
*The author's opinions are his own.