For those … unable to distinguish between decay and metamorphosis ... it is not the world that is perishing, but their image of the world.
Showing an ambitious collection of large-scale sculptural works, the exhibition, Prevent This Tragedy, utilizes the destruction and metamorphosis of the Post-Institute art space as a unique opportunity to explore the connection of change and tragedy through multiple manifestations. The nine artists of the show adroitly engage with the concept of tragedy in a meta manner through their various pieces. Peeling back the layers of psyche, physicality and perception, they engage in a physical dialog between the nature of metamorphosis and space, temporality and emotion.
As human beings we have a strange relationship to change and to tragedy. The two entities so often intertwined with one another serve a purpose while also being victims of an exacerbated perception, cradling them into the ideas of what they are instead of the possibilities that they (can) also produce. For the final show to be held at Post_Institute, the Von Goetz Art opened up the unique space to curators Martin Mayorga and Vanessa Murrell of DATEAGLE ART, both impressive in its application of the concepts as well as in the scale of the works presented.
Many of the pieces are site-specific including Jim Woodall’s self-destructing concrete wall, the nature of the work inhabiting a rather bold piece of complex reflexivity. The artist’s creative work of devolution is a creation born out of impending destruction, built to both figuratively and literally reflect the atmosphere within which it exists and for which it exists. Andrea V. Wright’s latex piece has functioned like a fabricated skin to the space. Peeling away from the wall, the material took on the form of the exposed brick. An imprint of the space is born into a new life and yet the temporality of the medium inherently transforms the integral structure of its existence. Wright’s work is also lit from below through a neon light, fastening a thread of continuity to the warehouse space of the Post_Institute building, while providing a new medium with which the artist could engage and experiment.
Coming from backgrounds outside of the art world, DATEAGLE ART curators, Martin Mayorga and Vanessa Murrell, focused on producing an exhibition with a deeply personal and human element. They hand-selected nine, both established and emerging, artists based on the uniqueness of their work and the creativity that could be built out of the non-white cube space. The curators used this rare opportunity presented by the warehouse space to present massive works like Frances Richardson’s flowing concrete canvas, which is suspended from a high-hanging bar and folds upon itself on the floor like fossilizing molten lava. Each artist was offered the opportunity to project and produce their own version and understanding of tragedy, and each artist composed a piece of truly mesmerizing work imbued with a labyrinthine network of significance, both overt and surreptitious.
A rigid and almost unforgiving exterior seems to lie upon each of the pieces, a harsh architectural film of strength and shadows of long-held establishment connect the pieces to each other and to Post_Institute. Covered in jesmonite and marble dust, the stark grey wall of Nika Neelova once foam, stands seeming immutable—a sentiment of stubbornness permeates the structure. Not far away, hangs Vasilis Asimakopoulos’ sulfur encrusted soundproofing foam, the shadow of its once soft malleability still visible. They have changed into these hardened structures, manipulated by yet another hand. But such change can be effected both ways, and there is always more than meets the eye. Upon closer inspection, elements of nature emerging from the cracks become visible. It seems unlikely that nature itself is the point of focus, but rather the allusion to the essential concept of life. Life finds a way to adapt and to build itself up from chaos and carnage. It is not the same life as it once was, but even pure extermination comes with a caveat.
Protruding so subtly out of the white plaster trunks of Jodie Cary’s industrial forest, leaves from the earth casts hold tightly to the frames, integral in the piece itself as a collection of elements forced together into a new existence. The beautiful stratification display of various industrial materials like jesmonite, chalk and sawdust by Simon Linington invoke visions of geology and the slow evolution and visual effects of time. Taking the idea in a more literal direction, Evy Jokhova’s work is interactive. A rock-like structure rests upon a platform, ready to be wheeled around by visitors. It speeds up the process of movement, portraying the human element and the agency involved in the frameworks around society. With only female visitors allowed to move the artwork, Jokhova inverts prevailing societal structures to confront the audience with the focused application of power production and reproduction.
Simon Callery’s work sinks even more deeply, penetrating exterior layers. Described as paintings by the artist himself, the black and emerald green canvases extend off the walls, creating a pleated 3D canvas. Not only is the very nature of the 2D painting transformed into a wholly different creation, but the work itself is reminiscent of the Golgi apparatus, the organelle responsible in plant cells for packaging proteins. By restructuring the form of the painting and hinting at the building blocks of biology, the artist infers to the possibility and inherent ingenuity in breaking out of traditional thought patterns and the possibility for repurposing structural systems.
The industrial nature of the works nebulized with elements of nature and being play to our more simplistic senses and project realities of futility and sorrow and sanguinity through moments of transition captured in the sculptural artworks. The tragedy that indeed exists within change and destruction is suffused throughout the exhibition and overshadows another more devastating affliction—the way in which the nature of change is often perceived in society, and the rippling effect of the negative and harmful manifestations of this feeling.
The conceptual world we have built and instilled with a sense of authority through symbolism is disintegrating—our fabrications of security, importance and veracity imploding by the very nature of their construction, and in Prevent This Tragedy we watch as a metamorphosis unfolds before our eyes, life both prospering and perishing.