SMALL A PROJECTS
January 4 – February 15, 2009
A welcome dose of hedonism, Are you with me?, is indulgent in its ludic creations. United by their investment in social ritual and with Dionysius as apparent co-conspirator, Jessica Jackson Hutchins, Jesse Willenbring and Jennifer West bring material ebullience to the proverbial (and literal) table. Willenberg’s oil-on-tablecloth abstractions appropriate lofty Modernist aesthetics but are grounded by their decidedly domestic base. Potluck-ready, Hutchins’s crude glazed ceramic vessels were enlisted for a small dinner at the gallery. Set on a slick modern dining table in the center of the room, the absurd containers seem unsure if they are meant for a pedestal or a buffet. West’s films blend performative events with the substances that influence them; in this instance Bloody Marys and the briny Pacific marinated 16mm documentation of full moon Malibu skinnydipping. Splashing nude bodies occasionally emerge from within the acidic flares and chemical burns affected on the film’s emulsion, but the effect is more SEMINA than Brakhage. Each of the three mediums on view here—painting, ceramic, film—speak as disparate voices among friends; formal resonances abound in the stains and messes at the core of the artists’ work, making for lively discourse. Amidst all the gloom and doom of late, it is tonic to be reminded of the transformative powers of social communion. But just as these works evince tension between physical surfaces and representation, questions remain about the terms of engagement. Potential models of exclusivity, one wonders how these rites translate to a wider audience. Anyhow, to the exhibition’s probing title, why not?