Sunday, June 07, 2009

First Friday Visit to "Installation Nation"

The idea of using large shipping containers as the base for installation artists displaying their skills at utilizing space is exciting. Primary Colours, a not-for-profit organization devoted to facilitating “interaction between visual artists and the community”, sponsored “Installation Nation” as a juried event. Located on an empty lot at the corner of Michigan St. and College Avenue for just the weekend of June 5-6, the show also included food and music.

Five containers were arranged in different angles on the property for the ten artists involved either as a team or individually. Three of the five artists chose themes around “home” and a sense of place.

Lori Miles, sculptor and faculty member at DePauw University, chose to arrange a variety of individual pieces to define her sense of place within the confines of a space that forced her to leave out some of her larger art. Doors, fire escapes, UFOs, and fire poles contain a context for her space. Miles moved around a lot in her childhood and comes to think of “things” to define a home and not a house. The UFO and its landing pad symbolize an arrival for the “ultimate commuters”.

Past museum worker, Michele Bosak, continues her cataloging of possessions and uses the medium of installation to share the comparisons of her everyday objects with her nicely stylized little square watercolors – all framed identically. Each drawing is labeled with the objects description, date of purchase, and amount. I couldn’t help but ask her about what she knows of Jennifer Dalton* who is currently showing in New York shelves of cataloged items of every one of her material possessions. Interestingly, Dalton also gained her obsession of cataloging everything from a past job with Sotheby’s. Bosak is familiar with Dalton but says she started doing her own style of cataloging before knowing of her. Bosak’s creation of watercolor drawings has a charm that is more enjoyable than Dalton’s photographs.

A pleasant spring day sitting on the back porch seems to be the inspiration for Kathryn Armstrong and Jill Marie Mason. The entrance is flanked by a freshly planted garden with classic metal table and two chairs. The pillows on the red metal chairs promise a nice comfortable visit. But the stay seems to have been interrupted considering the two half filled bottles of lemonade. Flowers and a postcard ready to be written add to the ambience.

Debbie Rosenfield lost her job when the World Trade Center was destroyed on 9/11. She moved to Ohio to start a new life as an artist. About a year ago she started learning Photoshop and is currently creating digital art. Roesenfield’s installation consisted of six framed artworks hung on the back wall. A digital projector provided a slick slideshow of other works. One was supposed to be able to text commands and get replies back, but unfortunately a necessary WiFi connection made the slideshow just a random presentation rather than the planned interactive show. While the art shown was pleasant they weren’t memorable.

The last shipping container was put together by an unidentified artist who wasn’t around for the first hour Friday. I don’t want to make a guess as to whom. Placed near the back was a false wall with a square opening. In front of the opening was 12 plastic cups supported on metal rods. Behind the opening was a fan (furnace type) blowing out over the cups. I assumed the breeze was supposed to wave the cups around a bit, but only one cup seemed to be much effected. It didn’t effect me much either.

I don’t know what the judging process involved or how many people entered. I do know I was expecting to see some stimulating, cutting-edge, thought provoking, or bizarre installations. Instead the installations were pretty safe. It was fun to explore from container to container. Being able to talk with several of the artists was the most valuable part of the experience. Overall the adventure Primary Colours provided was wonderful. Their purpose, “To create and sustain a thriving environment for the visual arts through unique exhibitions, workshops, and special events” was successful. I’m looking forward to finding out what their next event will be.


*Error corrrected: Jennifer Dalton is the artist known for her collectibles exhibit shown during the same time at the Winkleman Gallery in NYC. However during the taping both Michele Bosak, another artist present, and myself referred to Eve Sussman, who is another artist represented by Winkleman.

15 Responses to “First Friday Visit to "Installation Nation"”

mbnjmntrb said...
June 7, 2009 at 9:35 PM

that video along with what ive heard about the show makes me very happy about not venturing to see a bunch of half assed room treatments and forced perspective galleries.
good idea for a show, dull selections, poor execution.

Anonymous said...
June 7, 2009 at 10:45 PM

In the first part of your post you state that there were ten installations in the exhibit, yet you go on to talk about only five. You even go so far as to say the “last shipping container…” What about the other five? Later you state, “I do know I was expecting to see some stimulating, cutting-edge, thought provoking, or bizarre installations. Instead the installations were pretty safe.” Seriously? Brian Priest’s installation involved 4,000 flies encased in a biosphere with one way out. Of course, the one way out was in close proximity to a bug zapper. The flies had a choice: either stay in bug heaven or risk death in escape. Also, he had a program that would pick up the sounds that the flies made within the dome and translate it onto a screen – occasionally a recognizable word would pop out. Jeff Schmuki had a great piece mixing the science of plant growth and discarded plastic tubes. Jeff Martin had a motorized bed that took the viewer on an artful MRI simulation. Where were you for those installations? Stimulating? Cutting-edge? Thought Provoking? I would say so. Bizarre? Definitely.

And as for mbnjmntrb: You said “a bunch of half assed room treatments and forced perspective galleries. good idea for a show, dull selections, poor execution.” WOW! Quite an opinion for someone who didn’t even attend the event! Give me a break.

Anonymous said...
June 8, 2009 at 8:55 AM

I'm pretty sure the artist of the "last shipping container" was identified in the handout (although I don't have it handy), and he was on hand when we went through it at 8:30 Friday. He explained to us that the blower wasn't running properly due to the overloaded generator. He hoped to have a new generator for Saturday. And they were glass bottles, not plastic. They made a pleasant sound when they were moving around as he had intended.

I'm not saying it was a brilliant or cutting-edge piece, but I feel you may have been a little unfair to him in this brief assessment.

ArtistDan said...
June 8, 2009 at 11:15 AM

I wrote "Five containers were arranged in different angles on the property for the ten artists involved either as a team or individually."

I went in all 5 containers. I'm afraid I somehow missed Brian Priest's work. Sounds like what I was hoping for all right.

Anonymous said...
June 8, 2009 at 3:45 PM

Lets get the facts straight, shall we?
5 containers
14 participating artists
10 installations

ArtistDan said...
June 8, 2009 at 6:18 PM

I was among the very few first to arrive at 6pm and wasn't provided with the brochure. I obviously missed going around to the back sides of the containers. To those artists I apologize for not seeing and shooting your installations. If you have any photos or video, I'd love to include those so others who visit here can see what you've done.

mbnjmntrb said...
June 9, 2009 at 8:55 AM

no breaks for people that dont post their names!

and no, i dont think plantings in used plastic is cutting edge. its called post-industrialism and i don't care. Priest's work is pretty cool, but paying $5 to see other 'rooms' when i can go see four bands play their heats out seems like a better spent friday night.

give ME a break!

Christopher said...
June 9, 2009 at 10:53 AM

Ahhhh. The delightful comment section.

First of all, thank you Dan for providing some interesting content to the blog.

Second, big thank you to Primary Colours for putting on this event. Who gives a rats ass if the work wasn't up to some commenters so-called 'standards'. The fact remains you did something here in Indy and are filling a much needed void here in our arts scene. All for the price of a beer. (still can't believe someone bitched about the price)

My hat's off to all of you and I look forward to the next installment.

Keppie said...
June 9, 2009 at 10:26 PM

There is a major error here. Eve Sussman does not have a show in New York where she has catalogued all of her possessions. Sussman is currently showing an installation and video at Winkleman Gallery where artist Jennifer Dalton's recent show is indeed about her catalogued possessions. Sussman does video, installation and photography. There is no correlation whatsoever with these two artists. Please get your facts straight.

ArtistDan said...
June 10, 2009 at 8:13 AM

Keppie - thanks for the heads up. Sussman must have been on my mind after seeing her recently at the IMA. She and Dalton are both represented by Winkleman and have shows running concurrently. I've made the correction.

mbnjmntrb said...
June 12, 2009 at 1:08 AM

"Who gives a rats ass if the work wasn't up to some commenters so-called 'standards'."

um, people with standards?

Anonymous said...
June 12, 2009 at 11:55 AM

To mbnjmntrb: Amazing that you continue to post about an event that you didn't even attend. Seems as if there is something else going on here. Perhaps you applied for the show, but weren't good enough to make the cut. Or perhaps you are just one of those artists who would rather sit back and criticize others to make up for the fact that you are a lazy untalented schmuck. It's too bad that we can't all have such high standards. So, in the future - by all means go out to the Mel, pay five bucks to see a bunch of hack bands and drink yourself stupid. But do us all a favor and stop being a "Hater" especially towards people, events, or organizations that you don't have first hand experience of.

junkabilly said...
June 12, 2009 at 9:55 PM

you missd mine...
6 low wattage radio transmitters that broadcast unusual sounds creating a unique sound collage that can only be experirnced by an indidviual thru a hand held radio and headphones

Anonymous said...
June 14, 2009 at 6:29 PM

I don't know if mbnjmntrb isn't right in his statement about "standards." I personally don't think sculpture is the best medium to be pushing in Indianapolis given the ecconomic environment, or the recent introduction of public sculpture as a staple in the downtown and surrounding areas. It's expesive and isn't the easiest thing to "get into", not like the music scene, which is thriving right now. He has a point about being entertained by whatever people are into, and it doen't have to involve alcohol either. I think I know who the poster is, and he isn't your typical knuckle dragger hater.
He's just sharing an opinion. I haven't seen one of those from this thread yet.

brent a said...
June 16, 2009 at 9:55 PM

Here's another review that saw all of the work, along with several images, including at least three of the installations not covered here:

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