Gallery Project Exhibit Finds Artists 'Unhooked from Time'
by John Carlos Cantu
Time isn’t running out soon on the Gallery Project’s “Unhooked from Time.” But the clock is ticking—in more ways than one.
“Virtually everything we do is time based, scheduled, and driven by time” begins the gallery’s exhibition statement. “Jobs are 9 to 5. Many work 24/7. Activities begin and end by the clock. We take two-week vacations; rent a cottage and a car by the week; reserve courts and sports equipment by the hour.”
But time is also a lot like the weather: People may complain, but nobody does anything about it. Asking what time “is” is certainly one of the most baffling questions conceivable. And this ambiguity is what makes time a perfect subject for the Gallery Project.
The exhibition, continues the gallery’s statement, “examines how we have lost relationship to the cycles of nature. It seeks to comprehend and express our loss in finding ourselves separated from the deeper context of time’s referent, the great primordial cycles. It considers the means by which we keep track of and use time to find meaning; comfort; a sense of control in our digitized lives.
“Ultimately, this exhibit seeks to depict the dilemma and comfort of being hooked to our current time system; the processes of unhooking; and the possibilities beyond. It asks, how does an artist know and express time, enter and release from time, both in its demanding presence and in its unknowable timelessness?”
And now, at the least, the presumption that “time” can even be depicted begins to gain a bit of artful currency. For it’s not only time itself that’s at play here; but rather, it’s the affect (and effect) of time as it intersects with space (as it factors in these artists’ creativity) that “Unhooked from Time” seeks to portray.
Local artists in the show are Gallery Project coordinators Gloria Pritschet and Rocco DePietro. Other Ann Arborites on display are Katie Halton, Colin Raymond, Carolyn Reed Barritt and Meghan Reynard. And the other contributors in the exhibit come from around the country and the world.
Southfield's Renata Palubinskas has contributed two curious oil on board artworks—“Girl and Bird” and “Desecration 2”—that reflect a surreal ambiance that only reveals itself through the most mundane of visual elements. “Girl and Bird,” in particular, features the unique viewpoint this gifted artist brings to her work: In this instance, a young girl carefully cups a small bird in her extended, folded hands as both look reverentially upward. It’s never easy to discern meaning in Palubinskas’ art, but this instance seems to indicate there’s time enough for two in graceful supplication.
Illinois artists Nicole Gordon and Brent Fogt have contributed artworks whose sheer intricacy takes a considerable time to study. Gordon offers up a pen and ink on mylar “Asylum” architectural interior whose complexity is reminiscent of classical facades with the distinct difference that Gordon’s grand hall reflects a decidedly odd, playful safe haven. And Fogt’s graphite on mylar “Oak” (depicting the shadowy silhouette of writhing bodies in the shape of a massive oak tree) is composed of thousands upon thousands of time-consuming tiny pencil strokes sketched across his four-foot working surface.
The Gallery Project has garnered some of the most imaginative mixed-media artworks and multi-media installations that Ann Arbor has seen in these last half-dozen years. And that continues to be true with “Unhooked from Time.”
South Bend's Charles Jevremovic has mounted a handsome “Wall of Circuit Board Panels” installation that finds a haunting beauty in now obsolete (or soon-to-be-obsolete) technologies. The massive installation, composed of 250 analog and digital circuit boards running up and across a Gallery Project wall, is backlit to add an eerie ambiance to the installation whose diaphanous green, black, brown, and cream panels are contrasted against the astoundingly complicated patterns found on each board. Collectively, they look like an urban landscape as viewed from high above.
Detroit’s Melissa Jones has contributed an old school Dada-inspired masterwork, “Distortion,” whose two-foot wooden box features disassembled time-pieces, inset ceramic blue eyes, and an hourglass, all nestled within a case where these elements collide in undefined signifiers; yet whose meanings have nonetheless also become familiar tropes of 20th century art and science fiction. Her contribution is to collect these familiar elements in such a manner as to reflect on both the show’s topic as well as their now timeless meaning.
Among the video-oriented works on display, Milan, Italy/New York City-based Italian performance artist Liuba’s “The Slowly Project: 1. Take Your Time—Moderna; 2 Art is Long, Time is Short; and 3. Take Your time—New York” videos (running simultaneously side by side in the Gallery Project basement) confound both Italian and American urban viewers through their device of a young model (Liuba; dressed demurely) walking at an exceedingly slow pace through the heart of these busy cities. The baffled audiences cannot determine if this is a publicity stunt or indeed performance art; but it’s fascinating to watch passersby try to ignore or interact with her as Liuba glides in and out of foot traffic.
Finally, Detroiters Andrew Thompson and Scotty Wagner have amassed the exhibit’s most ambitious project with their “Seen and Not Seen” installation set in the gallery’s rear alcove. This duo’s dubious trove of the 20th century electronic detritus piled ceiling high in the Gallery Project’s rear corner takes a page from master-Dadaist Marcel Duchamp’s “Etant donnes” with a near-hidden eyehole nestled in the rubble. A subterranean, bony model keeps a discreet eye on the gallery by way of a functioning remote video monitor. Amusing, chilling, and puzzling, Thompson and Wagner certainly prove they’ve had a lot of time on their hands to construct this outstanding artwork devoted to observing the passage of time itself.
“Unhooked from Time” will continue through May 15 at Gallery Project, 215 S. Fourth Ave. Exhibit hours are noon-9 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday; and noon-4 p.m. Sunday. For information, call 734-997-7012.