Now On View: Christopher Blay: Machine Time and Sandow Birk and Elyse Pignolet: The 99 Names of God at The McKinney Avenue Contemporary (through Dec. 8)
Christopher Blay’s Machine Time looks like a film set or an interactive (and somewhat madcap) exhibit at the Smithsonian, filling the gallery at the McKinney Avenue Contemporary with vintage televisions, gizmos, and gadgetry. A phone booth-sized capsule, a video projector, some vintage consuls, stacks of old televisions, hair dresser’s chairs, multiple sets of clunky headphones, circular photography exposure guides: these are some of the eBay or thrift-store finds that Blay incorporates into an exhibit that feels like a hastily abandoned laboratory, suggesting an open-ended narrative about a time travel experiment. The experimenters appear repeatedly in photos on the walls; a video jumps between montages of their faces, a glitching close-up of the artist’s face, and some footage of the “crew” at work in the gallery-lab. Towards the back of the room, a series of broken clocks mark various “times,” their labels reading “then,” “past,” “after,” “always,” etc.
Time isn’t so much Blay’s subject here as are these broken tools. Like Christian Marclay’s “The Clock,” which marked the passing of twenty-four hours by stitching together footage pulled from hundreds of movies, Blay is similarly concerned with the relation between time and the technology that mediates our experience of it. The installation implies past events, and what is left behind is both documentation and artifact. And while the time travel drama may be fictitious, the objects themselves resonate with their own associations of other eras: 1950s America, nuclear experimentation, early MTV. Blay manages to use the gallery as a setting for both fiction and metaphor, creating a tension between his object’s implied and historical use. Near the entrance of the gallery, two digital prints show two faces – pioneering photography inventors Fox Talbot and Louis Daguerre — superimposed over the artist’s own face. Perhaps this time travel stuff isn’t so tongue-in-cheek after all. Blay has managed to use the gallery as a means to be anywhere or anyone he wants.
Next to Blay’s Machine Time, Sandow Birk and Elyse Pignolet’s six drawing suite, The 99 Names of God, features meticulous, oversized ink drawings, five of airports associated with the September 11 attacks, and one diagraming a dismantled AK-47. Birk and Pignolet’s precise images are set amidst a swirl of ornate trimming and floral decoration, as well as text – both English and Arabic – which incorporate the many titles used to speak of God in the Koran. The overt political tension presented in the work – the juxtaposition of titles like “the merciful,” ”the witness,” the destroyer” alongside the reference to religiously-motivated terrorist attacks – is tempered by the delicate beauty of the drawings. Another drawing suite in the show, this one just by Birk, features a series of scenes – in one, a Ruscha-like gas station, soldiers in Afghanistan, and the Guantanamo prison – obstructed by ornate blocks of text extracted from the Koran and rendered in calligraphy on top of the drawings. Again there is political tension created by an unexpected juxtaposition. But in both drawing series, what is most essential is how these realistically rendered scenes are combined with exterior information — historical association, religious text – in a way that both obscures and mediates our perception. Political rift, these pieces suggest, is rooted in an individualized and composite reality.
The latest slew of Design District gallery shows close up this week. Before they do, check out Ben Lima’s video program at Conduit. Colette Copeland reviewed Cosmopolitanism for Glasstire, and said at first the work felt too-loosely connected, but some themes emerged:
My initial questions concerning unifying themes of cosmopolitanism changed as I thought more about the lesser-known definition. Contextualizing the videos within the larger perspective of human morality allows for a broader interpretation of the works. And bottom line—the videos are conceptually and visually compelling.
This Week’s Must-See Lecture
“Nicolas Guagnini Lecture” at SMU Meadows Owens Fine Arts Center, Room 3531 – November 7 at 6:30 p.m. 6101 Bishop, Dallas, TX 75275.
A number of local art projects, collectives, and pop-ups – combined with a general disaffection among art lovers regarding the hyper capitalization of the art market (with Dave Hickey’s “resignation” from the art world representing the latest revving of collective groaning) – makes this Nicolas Guagnini lecture at SMU particularly relevant. Here’s the brief from the university:
Nicolas Guagnini was a founding member of the cooperatively owned exhibition and gallery space, Orchard 47, located on the Lower East Side of Manhattan from 2005 to 2008. The gallery, like Guagnini’s work, was often associated with institutional critique, a practice that questioned and challenged the authority of the gallery and museum. In his own art practice one can identify common themes such as social division, repression, psychoanalysis, and the capitalist structure in sculptural installations and his films and photographs.
Here are the openings:
“Art With a View” by Mark S. Nelson, at the Belmont Hotel – November 7: 6-9 p.m. 901 Ft. Worth Avenue, Dallas, Tx 75208.
The Ninth Annual Michael L. Rosenberg Lecture: On the Run: Clodion’s Bacchanalian Figures with Anne Poulet at the Dallas Museum of Art — November 8, 7 p.m. 2121 Harwood Ave., Dallas, TX 75201.
Next Topic with Alejandro Borsani, moderated by Mona Kasra at CentralTrak – November 8 at 7 p.m. – 800 Exposition Ave., Dallas, TX 75226.
“Views of the Lake” by Cassandra Emswiler, at the Lago Vista Gallery of Richland College – November 8: 6–8 p.m. 12800 Abrams Road, Dallas, Tx 75243.
“Impressionable: Printmaking Techniques and Innovations” a panel discussion presented by The Business Council for the Arts at North Park Center – November 8, 6:30-8:30 p.m. 8687 N. Central Expy., Ste. 2131. Dallas, TX 75225.
“Spin Off: Graphic Texts” a panel discussion at The MAC – November 8, 6-7 p.m. 3120 McKinney Ave. Dallas, TX 75204.
“Applefaces” by Joe Allen, Joshua von Ammon, Michael Corris, Alexander DiJulio, Devin Kenny, Kelly Kroener, Samantha McCurdy, Eli Walker, and Jeff Zilm at Studio DTFU – November 9 7-11 p.m. 842 1st Ave., Dallas, TX 75226.
“PAINT: Professional Artists In North Texas” by Pamela Blaies, Tina Bohlman, Ann Hardy, Cheri Irwin, Shirley Kinworthy, Beverly Richmond, Paula Robinson, Arlene Butterworth Taylor, Irma Ward, Fran Chausse White, Margie Whittington, and Trish Wise, at the Artists’ Showplace Gallery – November 9: 6-9 p.m. 15615 Coit Road. #230, Dallas, Tx 75248
“Velocity” by Christopher Martin, at the Christopher Martin Studio – November 9: 7-10 p.m. 1533 Dragon Street, Dallas, Tx 75207
“Fast” by Jesse Morgan Barnett, Christine Bisetto, and Danielle Georgiou, at Eastfield College – November 9: 6-9 p.m. H100, 3737 Motley Drive, Mesquite, TX, 75150.
“CGB Artists Studios“ by Caroline Shaw Ometz (1C1), Rocky Balboa aka Ricardo Paniagua (1C3), Marsha Oliver Moser (1C4), Donna Davis Ball (1C4), Bob Nunn (1C4), Jan Perry (2E1), Carol Pankratz (2E1), Steve Tate (2C2), Art Beef Collective (2E3), Carroll Swenson-Roberts (2C3b), Heather Helen Ray (2C4), Anne L. Hines (2C5), Marianne Gargour (2W1), Jenny Keller (2W2), Jan Partin (2W2), Patsi Davila (2W5), VET (2W5), David Klucsarits (2W6), Jacque Kindle (2W8), Fanny Brito (3C1), Karla Aseneth Ceballos (3C3), Ty Milner (3C5), Status Design Studio (3W1), Rob Aikey (3W2), Alison Jardine (3W3), Erika Jaeggli (3W4), Lindsey Owen Custom Jewelry (3W5), Catherine Baronet (3W5), Kim Petty (3W6), and Bill Planey Graphic Design (3W7), at the Continental Gin Building – November 9: 6-10 p.m. and November 10 2-8 p.m. 3309 Elm, Dallas, Tx 75226.
“GRAPHIC ALCHEMY” by Rosenda Aguilar, and “Latino Artists: Highlights from the AT&T Art Collection” at the Latino Cultural Center – November 9 : 6-8 p.m. 2600 Live Oak. Dallas, Tx 75204.
“Terminal Compositions” by Gary Farrelly, at Ro2 Art’s DOWNTOWN PROJECTS – November 9 : 7-10 p.m. 110 N. Akard, Dallas, Tx 75201.
“Texas Sculpture Association 2012 OC3 Juried Show” at Oak Cliff Cultural Center – November 9: 6-9 p.m. 223 W. Jefferson Blvd., Dallas, Tx 75208.
“Traceries” by HJ Bott, and “WELLHEAD” by Ann Glazer, and “Rain or Shine” by Jesse Barnet, Glenn Downing, Michael Henderson, and Ludwig Schwarz, at the Kirk Hopper Fine Art - November 10 : 6:30-8:30 p.m. 3008 Commerce Street, Dallas, Tx 75226.
“almost Relevant” by Keith Allyn Spencer, at the Oliver Francis Gallery – November 10: 6-10 p.m. 209 S. Peak Street, Dallas, Tx 75226.
Mary Vernon: Paintings at Valley House Gallery – November 10: 6-8:30 p.m. 6616 Spring Valley Rd., Dallas, TX 75254.
“Art Con 8” – November 10: 7 p.m. – 12 a.m. 960 Dragon St. Dallas, TX 75207.
“Autobahn Nocturnes, A Solo Show” by Sallie McIlheran, at the Norwood Flynn Gallery : November 10: 5-8 p.m. 3318 Shorecrest Drive, Dallas, Tx 75235.
“GODSPEED” by Peggy Epner, at Laura Moore Fine Art – November 10: 7-10 p.m. 107 South Tennessee, McKinney, Tx 75069.
“Kent Wallis” at Southwest Gallery – November 10: 1-5 p.m. 4500 Sigma Rd., Dallas, Tx 75244.
Image from Terminal Compositions byGary Farrelly at Ro2 Downtown Projects