Perambulating the Bounds

Saturday, August 18, 2007

SooPlex's last show

SooPlex had its last show last night. Associates of Mike’s and Julian’s from various places. Now Mike Calway-Fagen heads to Athens, Georgia, where he already has plans to open a space. And Julian Rogers goes to Brooklyn to give that a try—y’know, New York, just like I pictured it, tall buildings, art critics, hedge fund managers with wads of cash…

Like the previous shows, one or a handful of pieces from each artist. Here’s what I responded to, in something like order of preference. 3 photos by Damien Crisp, of bits of crumpled newspaper set against a pitch black background, broken by a areas where points of light seem to glint off the black surface. The paper looks like it was soaked in wax—it’s moist and textured, taking on characteristics of skin, but also making it luscious in a way. Although it’s the most trivial material possible. The images were improbably sleek. The setting could have been the depths of the intergalactic sky, or dark water in a gutter. It also has purely formal qualities, or constitutes an updating of Cubist treatments of newspaper text.

Then there were a couple of pieces by Survival Design, Jason Brown and Elizabeth Scofield in Knoxville. The piece I liked best was a set of nylon pods, sewn together in sections. An oblong one hung from the ceiling, and maybe 7 little ones lay on the floor below. Inside each bag, a red LED element flickered. The room was well-lit, so the LEDs were dim. I took that on face value, and found myself looking at these units as engaged in withholding rather than delivering light—Mike pointed out that in a darker room, the effect would be different. I also had the sense that the LED was more visible from some angles that others, so even thought the piece was in the middle of the room, I found myself negotiating with the piece over the plane of approach. And the forms were pretty just on their surfaces.

Let’s see. Christopher Ho, with a different use for newspapers—a couple of prints that took print window ads, stacked them up vertically and took away elements. The sequence of panes suggested there was a narrative in there somewhere. In each print, there was a point where the word “free” stood alone inside one of the panes. An utterly out of place word really, since the point of the source material in every case was to sell something.

Elisha Kerlin. A folded sheet, blue stripes on white, lay on the floor and was painted over with a blue cross that extended past the edges of the sheet onto the gallery floor. It has obvious formalism—I was looking for a comparison, and came up with Ben Nicholson, although there’s probably something closer. Except it’s a sheet not canvas, on the floor, not the wall. And the work was created in situ by Mike, following instructions from the artist. Of course it reminded me also of Mariah Johnson’s use of bedsheets.

There was also a story posted on the wall written in response to the show’s theme and inspiration, a failed adventurer named Bas Jan Adler. It was one page and reminded me of an Italo Calvino fable, a similar tone of timelessness in a setting which you have no reason not to think is contemporary, and the same hyper-distilled content. I didn’t remember to remember the name of the author, so I’ll throw it out here and hope I get a comment posted filling in that important detail.

Good luck to Mike and Julian in their next things. Sorry to see them go. Now it’s someone else’s turn.


  • Michael Lee is the writer's name. He is a graduate student at Auburn.

    Thanks so much David. I'm glad you enjoyed the show.

    By Blogger Mike, at 10:12 AM  

  • I knew you'd come to my rescue Mike. Thanks.

    By Blogger David Maddox, at 4:41 AM  

  • Hey David-
    I was wondering if you knew of any *specific* hedge fund managers with wads of cash???
    Thanks for your participation in our project; your response was one of our more notable achievements.
    Keep in touch.

    By Anonymous Julian., at 9:24 AM  

  • Wait a second, you're the one in New York. I'm counting on you to find these people, and evangelize them on behalf of the Nashville arts scene, Nashville artists, and Nashville arts writers. We all could make good use of access to the international capital gravy train.

    By Blogger David Maddox, at 9:31 PM  

  • haha.

    it will be like the movie pecker.

    ps. check out if you like those photos, there are more where they came from. ps. this is my roomate now.

    By Blogger Julian, at 7:22 PM  

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