Thursday, March 04, 2010

Exploded View: Opposing Thumbs at Art Of This

I’m kind of surprised and even a bit baffled that David Bohm, the quantum physicist, keeps coming to mind in relation to the current show at the Art Of This gallery in Minneapolis. Why? Well it’s probably because I don’t really know much about him or quantum physics. I’m not sure but I’m guessing it’s the little bit I know about his beliefs in the interconnectedness of all things, and what that means in terms of relationships and communication between people.

The show, Opposing Thumbs, is a mixed media installation that fills the entire gallery. It is the first collaborative work between the gallery’s co-directors, artists David Petersen and John Marks. For four years, the two have worked together to create one of Minneapolis’s best spaces for contemporary work, with a tendency towards social practice and conceptual art.

The show’s press release describes Petersen and Marks journey together with words like “discord” and “economic strife.” It speaks of “disagreements regarding aesthetic, conceptual, political and philosophical concerns”, even calling out each of their “distinctive self-destructive behaviors”. Even though there was a tone of humor to it all, on the drive over I couldn’t help but develop a romanticized vision of their relationship, and from that, develop a sense of what I thought the work I was about to encounter might feel like. I half expected a series of works that were cathartic, complicated and dark. Of course, I could not have been more wrong.

Opposing Thumbs was, in part, born of the recent home improvement projects both artists have been struggling with in their own dwellings. Most of the materials are either remnants of, or reflect Home Depot style remodeling projects, that is to say, textiles of the lowest order. Right at eye level, where many galleries might hang framed paintings, two foot strips of differently patterned wallpaper connect to form a continuous band around the gallery, no doubt a commentary on painting itself. While there is a certain momentum to the patterns as they make their way around the room, where they connect, they almost feel randomly chosen. Two jagged sculptures in the middle of the room, the same color as the floor, lean towards what the eye can’t help but gravitate to, a large colorful and busy, but still gentle video projection. The reflection it makes in the window seems to take the space of the gallery almost to the street. Two opposing ramps covered in carpet are centered by gilt framed video pieces. The room feels light, but dense. There is a narrative present, but it might be different to anyone who experiences it. I was absolutely struck by the smart, playful and esoteric tone of the room. I loved being in the space and can’t recommend it enough.

Upon reflection though, it might be the sound piece and Petersen’s admission that he didn’t really like it, fearing that it was “maybe too reverent”, that is most interesting to me. They came to a perfect compromise with it. The four minute audio of what sounds like a vague, ethereal, distorted choir is followed by four minutes of silence. It becomes the perfect anchor to my memories of a room filled with geometry that seemed to answer and mirror itself in abstract ways all over the place, as with the fake painted lattice adjoined to real lattice… a strange balance exists.

Maybe that’s where David Bohm comes in. The writer Jim Belderis said of Bohm “His realizations give intimations of an infinite hierarchy of ever deeper implicate and superimplicate orders, each one enfolded in the level that underlies it. And these flow endlessly into the unknowable ground of being.” It makes me think of the didactic for Opposing Thumbs, which concludes with the sentence “Because if there is a goal, it would be not to conclude and resolve, but rather to continue with the challenge that is continuing. “ And thus by continuing, each “answer” that Petersen and Marks arrive at only creates more questions. Which is just like great art.

Opposing Thumbs closing reception happens Saturday March 6th 7-11pm.
Art Of This gallery is located at 3506 Nicollet Ave, S. Minneapolis MN

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I don't understand.