Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Still Action Exhibition

For the exhibition Still Action -- on view at the School of the Art Institute's Sullivan Galleries in Chicago until October 2nd -- Brandon Pass designed, built, and installed (the last two with Nick Bastis) a kinetic wall installation for artists Elissa Papendick and Libby O'Bryan to "challenge and broaden the curatorial process as an artistic practice."

Inspired by anthropologist C. Nadia Seremetakis's concept "still-act" ("moments when a subject interrupts historical flow and practices historical interrogation"), on each Friday the gallery hosts different artists "who instigate aesthetic experiences that leave viewers with a heightened sense of awareness."

As can be seen in the image at top, the wall installation is more of a work surface than an armature for artistic expression, fitting with Papendick and O'Bryan's focus on curating for their residency. Some relatively mundane activities take place when the wall is opened as a desk (meetings, coordination, etc.), but all of the curatorial elements are then tucked away when the wall is closed.

These drawings illustrate how pieces hinge in plan and section, not just projecting from the wall but protruding through to modify both sides of the wall simultaneously. For example, the desk surface extends through the wall to become a small stand for a microphone and coffee or tea; curating and interviewing happen on either side but are interdependent on the same movable elements.

Function in the realm of the exhibition and the artists' tasks aside, I prefer the image of the wall in the closed position. Over time it probably won't have the unadorned appearance of above, but the combination of panels, reveals, and hardware give it the appearance of a cabinet of curiosities, or something like Ben Nicholson's Teloman Cupboard. One may not envision a simple desk and other accoutrements when open, instead letting the mind wander to whatever slender artifacts may lie behind the plywood. Regardless it's a small but dynamic and influential element within its surroundings that addresses the needs of the curators and over time the other artists as well.

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