Everything is Collective @ TTU Satellite Gallery
Texas Tech University visiting professor Aaron Hegert, with artists Zachary Norman and Jason Lukas opened “Everything is Collective: A Concept is a Brick” at the TTU Satellite Gallery during the October First Friday Art Trail. This is a nod to Deleuze and Guattari’s “A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia”:
“A concept is a brick. It can be used to build a courthouse of reason. Or it can thrown through the window.”
I’m not even going to pretend to be able to unpack that reference as a whole. I’ll narrow down the theme and guess that this show is dealing with problems of the Western world.
The three collaborating artists worked on photographic and digitally rendered (you guessed it) bricks, making and remaking the images through various textures and settings. This body of work is incredibly visually satisfying- even sexy. Each piece features a brick that appears to have been hit with the “James-Bond-opening-credits” filter. (Think: silhouettes, oil, ice, chrome, etc.) The effect is total finish fetish with the added bonus of dramatic, movie-set backdrops.
The one interrupter in the series is a strange corner piece of a man at a podium. Presumably he is the “Dr. No” in this metaphor. The exhibition title nailed it: the power of signs and symbols (semiotics, if you’re fancy) in this moment, and always, is apparent. Whether a social media ruckus over decorative wreaths or an artist’s deft use of materials...objects and images carry weight. (Sidebar: as in the Hobby Lobby cotton example, these signs and symbols can shift meaning and context until becoming meaningless, or at worst, a cliche of Joanna Gaines, Pinterest-based decorating. For an example of an artist using a material with historical heft, look to Kara Walker’s “The Sugar Sphinx.”)
I’m inclined to give narrative to this body of work, even though the title is cautioning me to know better. With titles like “Rio Hondo Police Academy #3” are the bricks symbolic of the foundations of our law enforcement and justice systems? Rio Hondo College is 2 hours from the Mexican border. Are the bricks symbolic of the fetishized “wall”? The proposed border wall exists in many places, and doesn’t exist in others due to inhospitable landscape and politicians rightly being squeamish about enacting eminent domain. But, as a chant, the symbol of the wall and what it means- this is where the brick is immensely of consequence. So, are the bricks the words we hurl through windows, or in this case, screens? Slut. Racist. Criminal. Blunt and at the ready- aren’t bricks also a foundation and insulating network? Activist. Educator. Friend. Indeed, a concept is a brick- at least these are something to see.
*The author's opinions are her own. Exhibition on view by appointment (email@example.com) or at the November First Friday Art Trail.