Usufruct Review

…Delicate by nature and pointed by truth. The show has its points of alluding its viewer in works by both Sreshta Premnath (Point Decapit___on) and Joshua Hart (_iso_) which each use objects like a cloth covered and running 16MM projector (Premnath) or a fake fur coat attached to distorted graphite drawings (Hart). Interesting to note their use of text titles, and how language has a strong bearing on the curatorial selections, given their literary roots in the formal and segmented nature of how text/context are interpreted through works such as this…

Nov 9, 2007 – T J Norris

Usufruct meaning

The mysteriously foggy drive through the dark added to the perplexing end point to last eve’s journey into night. The destination, the Art Gallery at Linfield College for Usufruct, curated by foArm Magazine co-editors Matt Marble and Seth Nehil. It’s an eclectic mix of works by artists near and far, with a peculiar intersection of media including fake fur, thread, a covered film projector, cardboard packaging and live plants. There’s a certain statement about living things, both animal and vegetable. And disectable narratives that go along with their individual lifelines. Birds, bling, petals and the subtle gesture. The curators have been ultra sensitive to infuse the show with kinetics and sound at every corner, and while doing so have managed to incorporate fourteen artists into a medium-sized space while still allowing for breathing room. The show balances the fragilities of ecosystems constantly dividing nature and humanity.

Works by Rebecca Davis(needles and thread), Dan Senn (a multipart audio floor installation) and one ofMelody Owen’s two video works called MGM Lionseemed the most physically alluring, balanced by the narratives in works byHarvest Henderson (also showing in LA this month, as well as Ogle in Portland) andDirk Lange’s Estonian collages titled Imagine How Much Fun We Could Have Had. Other pieces took the object out of context of place like curator/artistRhoda London’s Untitled floor piece with photo transfers on glass illuminated from a centering lighting element dangling from the ceiling, like some sort of audubon reliquary. Upon entry in a glass wall case, performance writer and maker of things, Bethany Wright’sHallowed, made from basic ingredients like soap, wax and hair conditioner, gives you the immediacy of a visceral gross-out. In many ways her style of working really always conjured something quite physical in its inferences. References of the insides of the body, often something viscous, of the touch, something fluid. This piece deals in the oral extraction, or that which we reject.

In the show there are works that hang from the ceiling, emerge from the floor and walls and corners, or some combination thereof. The curators have truly used the space to invoke movement and spatial relationships. That aside, the work as a whole comes with weighty conceptual conundrums that field domestic neighborly concerns (Henderson’s Specimens i-iv: Starla’s Garden – Document of Abandoned Narrative) to the containment of the fragments of coccooned nature in Linda HutchinsJade Plant, a bit of a reclamation (or resurrection) of natural things kept whole by the process of ‘contemporary mummification’. Delicate by nature and pointed by truth. The show has its points of alluding its viewer in works by both Sreshta Premnath (Point Decapit___on) and Joshua Hart (_iso_) which each use objects like a cloth covered and running 16MM projector (Premnath) or a fake fur coat attached to distorted graphite drawings (Hart). Interesting to note their use of text titles, and how language has a strong bearing on the curatorial selections, given their literary roots in the formal and segmented nature of how text/context are interpreted through works such as this.

It was both Senn’s and Davis’ work that were without pun, most sound. Senn’s Cradle: Cross dealt in a sort of improv secretive gamelan, powered by digitally produced sinewaves that had a nervous gesture played on metallic plates. While Davis’ Untitled (green thread) had a simple floating ambience that delicately floats weightlessly and linearly from a perfectly installed fine line of sewing needles. The color green shifts from end to end with subtle variations like the colors coming into the light of the sun. Owen’s work had a spot of humor, often a good balancer in a show with such elegance and simplicity. Her work MGM/Lion(2004) a digital video plays on the endless roaring of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer’s age-old motif. Here, though, she has silenced the mighty voice of this empirical king of the cinematic forest and instead replaced it with cartoon jewels or bling being visually expurgated from the fearsome cat’s mighty jaws. It’s cute at first, but comes to a boil in time. Therefore adding to the weight of this otherwise luminous little show. But remember: I am big, it’s the pictures that got small…..