Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Ambiguous Humanity

Untitled Study 1
The Party Dress

A couple of days ago (March 28), UNF was locked down because of a bomb scare…later it was discovered to be an art project, Self. Justin Budwick had attached analogue-style phones—the kind available at Walgreens for about $10.00—to grey Tupperware boxes, closed with a tiny padlock, almost as an afterthought. Apparently he left the devices positioned around campus with the intension that passersby would pick up the phone and listen to a message, or two, or three from a complete stranger. Campus security didn’t see it that way.

At this point it’d be easy to devolve into a conversation about the redundancy of security, living in a culture of fear, or even the odds that UNF would be singled out for a terrorist attack. But those things seem pretty self-evident. A closer look at the piece is, however, in order. When the receiver is lifted, it triggers a recording: a short sentence at most, of a stranger sharing a bit of information about him/herself. It might be the voice of an old Southern lady remembering how hard it was when she was growing up, or the voice of a confident young man exclaiming over the depth and breadth of his magnificent vocabulary...or another of the people that rarely breach another's consciousness.

As a project, though it has NPR/This American Life-esqe overtones, it is successful in breaching the isolation people carry with themself throughout the day. Posing more questions than it answers: who are these people, how were they chosen, what do they think of the project, Self successfully inhabits an ambiguous realm that requires the audience to reconsider the teeming masses around them as actual people too.

Several other projects (all sculptural) stood out: Kristin Bartie’s Untitled Study 1 a nod to Jean Claude and Christo--though there seem to also be hints of Eva Hesse, and Jessica Carantza’s piece The Party Dress were interesting. Then there was Narooz Soliman’s piece, Stacked Ramen Noodles. In the wake of Sang Wook Lee’s highly satisfying installation still on view at MOCA Jacksonville, Ramen Noodles, Soliman’s piece reeked of a sort of last-minute desperation…not to mention the polyurethane holding it together (perhaps why it was placed outside of the gallery).

As a whole, the entire show hung together with the expected lumps and bumps of a student show. Curating the disparate visions, talent, and sophistication of an amassed group of students is no easy task. But sneaking around the shows of these fledgling artists yields surprises and sometimes, hope.


Mark Creegan said...

Finally got to see the show on Friday and have to say this is one of the best UNF student shows i have seen. Special kudos to Jen Hager for introducing some interesting concepts to her students.

madeleine said...

I agree, the level of the work being made has been ratcheted up...especially work that isn't simply 2-D.