Strength In Numbers:
STRENGTH IN NUMBERS is an event, a sculpture, an installation, and a group of individual artists with extremely diverse practices laminated by a shared experience at the Skowhegan School of Painting & Sculpture, where they met and started working together during this past summer’s session. In proposing a project for SCOPE, this was their point of departure: what is an individual within the context of an organization? Using these constraints as a catalyst, the project has evolved into a collaborative effort to bridge the physical distance between each of them, and manage a condensed time of production and display. Featured in the Outside Lounge at SCOPE, the 2011 Skowhegan residents will reassemble, build, project, stage, and perform a space for collaboration, ambiguity, and flexibility. They will work on their monument “the group” during the course of the fair; side by side, but not necessarily together, like a ship’s crew trying to stay afloat. Their materials will consist primarily of the detritus of other participants at SCOPE and the contents of two crates, arriving from New York and London, respectively. The items inside the crates will be incorporated based on written instructions, telephone conversations, email correspondence, and hands on assistance from the artists. Ultimately and throughout, we will be arriving at a structure that is zoned for productivity and a vibe that overcomes the aspirations of any of us individually. During the week-long event and on a daily basis, the monument will evolve, grow, discharge, dissolve, take U-turns, make upgrades, flex and flux, purge and merge, expand and even collapse in a constantly-morphing building performance.
Works by ap-art-ment, and solo works by both its progenitors, Laura Boles Faw and Cathy Fairbanks
closing reception: November 12, 2011 12-2pm
Pop Up Art House
730 W. Sunset, Henderson, NV 89011
A recent review of the show can be found here:
There’s a variety of everyday magic that draws the senses into focus—a sound or maybe an action that aligns the body and mind into full and complete attentiveness. Worries about tomorrow or regretful yesterdays fall away, and for an instant we are utterly present in time. The sound of a zipping jacket. The act of washing dishes. The touch of a dog’s cold wet nose. It can be a quick snap-to or a slow slip out of oblivion and into a sensuous now.
A preoccupation with this kind of “there-ness” permeates Pop Up Art House’s About the Thing and the Thing Itself, an installation by Californians Cathy Fairbanks and Laura Boles Faw, under the collaborative name ap-art-ment.
The pair primarily investigates the very nature of collaboration. A quick and dirty read of the installation almost theatrically illustrates this creative conversation, symbolically played out in a series of pairings that crescendo in Fairbanks’ “Sleeping Bags.” The sculpture presents two sleeping bags lovingly stitched in swirling methodical zigzags that pucker and manipulate the sacks in such a way as to subtly suggest the curve of a recently vacated body. The bags are inverted and upright, resting atop two mannequins, facing one another in stilted exchange. The collusion is echoed by the proximity of Faw’s haunting “Part 1,” two prints of two drawings of crumpled blank paper, specimens of (or placeholders for) exchange between the artists themselves.
Don’t let the veneer of duality fool you: The heart of About the Thing is its vigorous simultaneity. Faw and Fairbanks function alongside one another, two coins spinning rather than two sides of the same coin.
In this interrogative dialogue, moments of precision seem to pinpoint instances of connectivity, but oddly those seem to happen most successfully independent of one another. An exhilarating “there-ness” is present in Fairbanks’ “The Drawing of Force,” purses made of deployed vehicle airbags, and the gorgeous fetish-finish infinity of dog snouts in Faw’s “Smelt Out” would give a Zen Buddhist a run for her money in its sensorial celebration of the Now. While interesting, collaborative pieces like the drawings in “Myth” footnote the mysterious alchemy of the solo work of these two artists viewed in proximity, a more fascinating chess game. As articulated in About the Thing, one artist is always a ghostly presence in the best of the other’s work.
Faw’s “Props” beautifully sums up the open-ended precision of About the Thing. Two unidentifiable, vaguely nonfunctional pink tools lean against mirrors, pinning them to the wall. The point of touch is also a point of departure, an ending and a beginning: acute, precarious and sure. Ap-art-ment’s most lucid instances of collaboration emerge in the present tense, a space-gap of pure potential.