Hair-Trigger Eternities

 
Looking for God and covering all that we can 2016 handmade cotton papers around pink foam board shape, suspended by hemp rope. lighting - and shadow - courtesy of the Overture Center's Broadway-quality lighting people.

Looking for God and covering all that we can
2016 handmade cotton papers around pink foam board shape, suspended by hemp rope. lighting - and shadow - courtesy of the Overture Center's Broadway-quality lighting people.

 

Overture Center for the Arts
Madison WI
Summer 2016

Hair-trigger Eternities was curated by the Overture's Beth Racette and up from June 27 to September 4, 2016. We showed alongside Caryn Ann Bendrick and Marissa Mackey. The title comes from a passage in Henry Miller's Tropic of Cancer. "In this sort of hair-trigger eternity I felt that everything was justified, supremely justified . . . "

We showed 4 works.

looking down from 2nd floor

The gallery is a long curving hallway with pink carpet. While lots of theater-goers come and go this way, we were leery of the space until we saw where the hallway widens out and opens up to the second floor. It's narrow, but tall and out of pedestrian traffic. The piece beyond Looking for God is entitled How to speak reassuringly in always uncertain times 2016 handmade cotton and abaca papers on pink insulation foam board form, the base is made up of lengths of 2" x 2".

No simple pedestal would do for us. We wanted the paper covered form tilted just right, so the base had to be tailored around our perfect tilt. Tacking 2" x 2" pieces of wood together as we did gave us that extra finicky dexterity needed. It also provided a contrast to the papered form.

The work stands taller than the adjacent 9' hallway so the viewer walks up to it to see it complete much as one might approach closer to a speaker to hear better.

view of How to speak reassuringly's pedestal

The red, white and blue covered foam (below, left) took a couple of weeks to build and refine. Then we spent 3 months figuring out how to install it. The picket fence idea (2nd image) made the colorful form seem precious. We liked the visual of installing it on a real picket fence in some sleepy suburb. The crudely lashed together sticks and wire in the 3rd image offered the right contrast to the form's fabricated look, but the brilliant yellow abaca made no sense.

Installation view of our 4 pieces before being lit by the Overture's lighting guys.

Installation view of our 4 pieces before being lit by the Overture's lighting guys.

Each of our pieces began as shapes cut from pink insulation foam board that we had scattered about the floor, rearranged again and again. We pinned together 3 arrangements with skewers and hot-glued them. The 4th stayed as a pair of single shapes.Then we covered the foam forms in handmade papers.

The resultant forms certainly looked like sculpture, ready to be frozen in place atop a pedestal. At the same time, they seemed meant to be interacting with something. Instead of showing sculptural specimens, we wanted to show objects doing, balancing, hanging. We decided to make their installation provide a context and be very much part of the piece while shunning the proffered white rectilinear pedestals. We worried that we might get the look of a sculpture within a sculpture, but we think we avoided that.

The gallery below has some installation shots followed by some studio "in process" shots including a few alternate "takes."  Shots of the evolution of Out on a Limb with building blocks are in the carousel following.

For a while, we thought to put the form in the higher space plunk it on a 15' length of wood set in a vat of cement. After that, we started to zero in on cantilevering the form off a branch. It seemed to keep the focus on the colorful paper & whimsical form. Cantilevering it on a thin stick that is itself cantilevered out of a plank base seemed to give the whole piece a zig zagging look of precise placement.