Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Yours, Mine, Ours

Last night was the closing event for phase one of Matt Allison’s “What’s Mine is Yours.” I stopped by the unfinished space at 323 Bay Street, and to my pleasure and surprise was early. The space, currently in the throws of renovation had the empty, dank, forgotten air of a basement…but was not without the spark of possibility. In fact, according to Allison, the space is slated to become a nightclub.

Entering the cool, slightly damp space, I was struck at once with the air of secret sharing, of absurdity, and of puppetry that pervaded the space. Admittedly, my most recent knowledge of Allison’s work comes from the show, “Next things next,” which he curated and participated in as well (I too showed two pieces). In “Next things…” Allison showed a series of pseudo technical drawings, against which he installed boxes of apples and oranges…at the time, I was really drawn to the renderings which reminded me of the precision of blueprints merged with a kind of obsessive uselessness.

The new installation, “Mine/yours” is arte povera/the weird-house-on-the-corner by way of Joseph Cornell and perhaps even Gustave Baumann. That is to say that there is a pervasive air of absurdity in the work abutting a kind of fanatical patheticness. “The word for me on this project,” said Allison with a smile, “was ramshackle.”

{From Miriam Webster: ram·shack·le, Pronunciation: \ˈram-ˌsha-kəl\
Function: adjective
Etymology: alteration of earlier ransackled, from past participle of obsolete ransackle, frequentative of ransack
Date: 1830
1 : appearing ready to collapse : rickety
2 : carelessly or loosely constructed}

And yes, the works were indeed carelessly and loosely constructed, in fact, I needed to keep reminding myself “not to trip and destroy things.” I also need to tell myself not to {err} ‘liberate’ the shiny, faceted, glass jewels strewn carefully around…because…if what’s yours is mine…in fact: that last statement prefigures the next phase of Allison’s project—he invited guests to bring him things of their own, and “trade” them for things of his…thus, “What’s Yours Is Mine.”

For Allison, who plans to take this year and “work,” (he put grad-school plans on hold because apparently he wasn’t the only person who sees the downturn in the economy as a good a time as any to dabble in the nuance and eccentricities required of an advanced degree) the piece is ultimately about “the graphic and the sensual…the old and the new.”

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