The Quadrennial Greater Decatur (QGD 2010) group art show, open from September 23 through November 21 held a positive and competent opening, but also proclaimed a soft gathering of works where amateur holes peaked through. Curator Lisa Alembik assembled both young and experienced contemporary local artists of varying mediums to line the exhibit. Agnes Scott embraced everything from dada, to pop puzzles, the hyper personal and culturally irrelevant. Schools and Non for profit spots seem to be holding the ball compared to the conservative kitches I’ve seen dying at for profit galleries such as the Solomon ‘projects’ recently.
Youthful and trendy, Jonathan Bouknight built an installation that lackadaisically connected many unfocused explorations of domesticity. His chocolate handgun is as frail as its trivial concept; I saw a finer porcelain Uzi in Seattle just this year. The connection of the pasty mint green paint prominent in the installation to time, entropy, or nostalgia was a subjective, hyper personal and a flimsy metaphor that didn’t connect with me. The professionally presented jumble produced one object of intrigue. A digital video of an exaggerated female portrait Forever Young was a star of the show. This portrait eerily, critically, and successfully deconstructs a face which art history and mass media have projected for ages.
Marc Brotherton ‘tags’ were another charming favorite of the show. Competently painted with a large vocabulary of marks; tiny patterns, thick pallet knife scratches and four inch swashes and text all share a single colorful canvas. It is a playful language that likens to stream of thought, graffiti, memos, word games and puzzles. It encourages at the least some interaction and the vibrant simplicity and cleanness doesn’t disappoint.
Susan Krause’s Iconidoku photo format brings slight interest with its the sculptural depth but its content is pop. The interactivity of the suduko was limiting to me, as I am unfamiliar with the rules of the game of recent pop fame. It seemed to help her reach one crowd, and alienate others.
Tangled in a center corridor, Chung-Fan Chang’s delicate line work looked more like pube monsters reminiscent of junior high art experiments and the optimistic neon triangles were in air of a 1980’s hair salon decor. The presentation was shoddy; large format drawings were tacked unevenly to the wall that damaged their professionalism and cheapened them.
Claire Paul’s “sound art” Textures of White Pipes, is a minimally meditative ambient field recording of pipes outdoors processed, collaged and filtered left a small impact on me. Ambient sound art doesn’t resonate well with me, as I prefer sound to be composed, varied and baroque. The factory made leather chairs and headphones weren’t inviting me to meditate either, or transport me to the mental place projected in the artist’s talk. I will only speak on it as much as her work spoke to me. The trend these days in ‘sound art’ seem to be minimal and digitally altered, effect based and delivered poorly.
Someone may have had an idea once, marketed it well, and Matt Haffner may have seen it and consumed it but he doesn’t understand it and he isn’t wielding it well either. Sin City rip of artist Matt Haffner’s ideas are as flat as his art. His interest in noir is poppy and empty. His explanation of searching for personal style and technique to develop story are even less inflated and achieve an effect of a pre-teens obsession with comics and nothing near fine art. The installation sized illustrations look like they used the rubber stamp effect in Photoshop and the pulp is unworthy of the space.
Collaborators Sara Hornbacher, Hartmut Koenitz and Ken Knoespel put together a collaged video, En Transit, centered on urban themes. The filters are recognizable to any amateur video editor as trace contoured or find edges. For art history nerds the collages relation to Walter Benjamin is amusing.
Lisa Tuttle’s savvy research presentation methods are very effective in a gallery setting compared to journalism or in an essay which might get swept under the rug. Postcolonialkarma opens up an important historical dialogue with its audience.
Overall the opening was competent, but impotent, a softly respectable, but hardly exciting evening at Agnes Scott. The show was trendy, but the trends aren’t great.