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Posts tagged Rachel
"Etchasketchathon" Gallery Guide


“A little elephant works earnestly on a canvas we cannot see.” From the gallery guide.

In prepping to give a tour at the Des Moines Art Center, I read up on the current print exhibition, “Etchasketchathon”. From the gallery guide:

Dinos and Jake Chapman—brothers who work as an artistic duo—explore human depravity, cruelty, and art’s power to provoke by making sculptures, installations, and prints in which cuteness, macabre imagery, and in-your-face outright tastelessness exist side by side.

The etchings in “Etchasketchathon” are simultaneously horrifying and cute. A vulture perched on a tree branch surveys a pile of sweet children’s heads (11); in another, a rabbit dressed in an apron holds the decapitated head of a small deer while a turtle looks on (26). The Chapmans do not use images of animals, children, and child’s play because children are adorable but because they re-enact violence in their play and because fairy tales and nightmares deal with life’s terrors.

Read the whole thing here. Also watch this video of Jake and Dionos Champman’s “Fucking Hell”. 

“Etchasketchathon” is on view for free at the Des Moines Art Center from now until May 18, 2014. Recommended.

Rachel Buse makes sculpture.  WEBSITE

Watch out for the Identity

Projecting Identity, Anderson Gallery Drake University

November 9 - December 14, 2012

Left: Marina Abramovic/Uly’s “Rest Energy” Right: ManYee Lam’s “Cocooning”

Review by Rachel

November 28, 2012

When I went to visit the Projecting Identity show at the Anderson, I was alone. Had the whole joint to myself and my leisure. It was a Sunday afternoon and I walked straight to the back, passing a handful of makeshift viewing rooms for each of the videos in the group show. The video behind the last curtain was titled Microcosm and was not looping. I found the remote, pushed play and watched from beginning to end.

The imagery was overwhelming. It was life, death, very big things and the very small. Digital bodies were morphing in and out, back and forth from flesh to bone. The music was some sorta dramatic film score set to a metronome of frantic typing.  From the point of view of God, you’re looking down on revolving chaos. A digital landscape collaged of scenes from the virtual role playing game, Second Life. It was like trying to see everything at once. 

Gary Hill’s “Wall Piece”

I left Microcosm and was engulfed by the stillness of Marina Abramovic/Uly’s Rest Energy. At first, I saw no movement. A man and woman were leaning away from each other, steadied by a bow and arrow. You can hear them breathing. Abramovic’s lover is aiming an arrow at her heart. The action breaks when they start to slowly release the tension being pulled on the bow and arrow. Then the video loops and again they fall back into position.

I moved slowly through each viewing station. You are either faced with a body or a collection of bodies. Behaviors include talking about cultural expectations, throwing oneself against a wall, primping in a public bathroom and trying really hard to make yourself vanish.  The intention is to consider identity. Question who you are you and what makes you that way. After being assaulted by a strobe light in the Gary Hill video, I laid on a pile of pillows in the ManYee Lam video installation.

Nate Young’s “Untouched”

It’s a cave in the middle of the show. Two videos are playing at once. Cocooning repeats faster than the Self-Combing Woman narrative. I recommend laying down on the pillows for awhile. Read the subtitles describing the lives and decisions these old Chinese ladies faced being “spinsters” in the “old world”.  It was the highlight of the show for me. You watch Lam build a cocoon around herself just like a silk worm would. The old ladies talk about how their choices set them free from the norm but still locked them in another restricting way of life. It made me think that we have to become specific eventually. Our specifics make up our identity.

Drake students and Lenore Metrick-Chen curated this show. They also wrote responses to the videos chosen which are provided to you in an excellent publication designed with invisible pages. I appreciated their insight after seeing the show. Projecting Identity closes Decemeber 14th. May you have your own dedicated Sunday afternoon at the Anderson before then.

I know you from the watermelon you're holding.

Sandra Louise Dyas’ “my eyes are not shut”, Anderson Gallery at Drake University

September 7 - October 12, 2012

Still from Kickstarter video. Watch here.

Review by Rachel

The first time I became acquainted with Sandra Dyas and her photography, she was holding a watermelon in a kickstarter video. It was still attached to the vine. This act of holding the growing gourd while talking about her love of taking pictures developed a strong visual relationship between person and object. Then, I saw her installation of photos in the Anderson Gallery at Drake, and I saw over and over again: relationships being built between person and object.

Detail of “Don, owner of the Modern Barber Shop in Burlington, Iowa”

Dyas imagery, those visual relationships, have stayed with me. I saw the show twice. I think a few pieces could have been edited out. The excess distracted me from the over-arching narrative into which I was being lead. Starting along the immediate right wall when you walk in, Dya’s characters are introduced individually, each with a name and location in the title. Collectively, they become a community with a culture determined by the formal decisions of composition and color.

Top: “Aunt LaVonna in Her Living Room, Bellevue, Iowa” Bottom: Installation shot during the opening.

It felt obvious to me that these photos are a fiction. Each person is understood by the sum of their surrounding parts. Dyas's highlights what is romantic and nostalgic about the Midwest: farms, babies, the open road, old barber shops, talking corn fields…. There is humor and an exaggeration of truth. Her colors are so rich, you question if real life could ever be that vibrant.

Top left, “Jamie Ballerina with Red Tomatoes, Iowa City, Iowa” Top Right, “Basketball Hoop, near Iowa City, Iowa” , Bottom: “Blue Birds”

And then Dyas starts matching bodies to landscape in pairs of photos. A pair of tattooed breasts compared to the symmetry of a pair of trees, and then this strange girl in a blue leotard is standing on one leg like this old basketball hoop. The comparisons are strong.

Barbara Ann in Her Tomato Patch, DeWitt, Iowa

The show’s title is “My eyes are not shut”. Take a gander before it closes October 12.