“The Way Things Work” at ATHICA

ATHICA: Athens Institute for Contemporary Art presents their 39th exhibit, The Way Things Work, which runs from Saturday, April 9 to Sunday, May 29, 2011. Curated by Didi Dunphy with Assistant Curator Megan Kluttz, who selected works from over 300 submissions, this colorful and spectacular exhibit features large-scale installation, indoor and outdoor sculpture, drawings, videos and sound art by 11 national and international artists. All of the artists’ works respond in some way to the systems we subscribe to as a culture, revealing and deconstructing norms.

Their works investigate a wide range of subject matter–from a meandering and lyrical installation referencing building construction to small drawings mapping the intricacies of lottery ticket predictions. In so doing they reveal how we classify the world around us in fascinating, surprising and amusing ways. For instance, two of the artists address the natural sciences; one plots the activities of katydids and spiders while another interprets the (dis)logic of government through sheep herding. Others diagram human accomplishments; one artist’s music composition is based on a famous chess match, while another offers us passages from Macbeth translated into Morse code. Other artists expose engineering processes; for instance one artist assembles small glass vessels encasing mechanical devices, another fabricates faux buttresses that appear to be holding up the very walls of the Chase Park Warehouse building, and another presents a slide show of 81 variations of an IKEA chair pack! From architectural schematics of fantastical cities to the sound of a city library’s microfiche room, The Way Things Work organizes disparate yet intimately inter-related concepts into a stimulating and complex whole, one that will provoke viewers’ curiosity about the world they live in.

The Way Things Work’s two featured artists, Will Pergl and Dan Grayber, were pre-selected by the ATHICA Exhibition Committee, with their specific works selected and sited by the exhibit curators.

Pergl, artist and Professor of Art at the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design in Wisconsin, will be traveling in a truck loaded down with the components of his sculptural work, Trivialities of Deportment. A site-specific sculptural work, it is reconfigured wherever it is installed, which in this case will reach to the tall ceilings and far corners in ATHICA. Quoting the aesthetics of building construction, Pergl’s work has a minimalist sensibility and is rich with whimsy. Pergl’s sculpture will create an environment that makes viewers feel as if they are entering into a large physical drawing, heightening their awareness of our shared presence in the space.

In contrast, the intimate sculptures from San Francisco artist Dan Grayber’s Mechanism Series appear to be quietly fighting to hold themselves up in the glass containers that house them. These spring-loaded mechanisms are both delicate and strong. While objects are usually designed to fulfill prescribed needs, Grayber’s sculptures, each its own unique invention, are autonomous.

There are nine additional artists:
Atanas Bozdarov from Ontario, Canada, one of two sound artists in the exhibit, brings us a transcription of one of the most memorable games in our cultures’ history. The Game of the Century usually refers to the chess game played between Donald Byrne, the USA’s strongest player and 13-year old Bobby Fischer, an upstart genius. In Bozdarov’s work, each move of a chess piece was assigned a note, resulting in a composition performed by a double bass player.

Robert Ladislas Derr from Columbus, Ohio brings us two video works. The first, In Play, is an ongoing project that pairs the artist with another like-minded artist in a ping-pong volley, cultivating a rallying exchange within an arts context. For instance, we see renowned artists such as Vito Acconci and Dennis Oppenheim playing table tennis with Derr. His second video work, Perverted into Tyranny, was inspired by a quote by Thomas Jefferson that proposes a three-tiered government structure as a preventative to tyranny. Derr illustrates this with a comedic video of him attempting sheep herding.

Andrea Flamini of Kansas City, Montana, the second sound artist, brings us two works. Using a naturalist’s approach to create an anthropologic study, her Room 100 is a field recording of the microfilm room at the New York Public Library. Between quiet and secretive shufflings you can practically hear the disintegration of information, printed as it is on an unstable medium. Macbeth Morse reconciles two disparate forms of communication created hundreds of years apart by translating passages from Shakespeare’s Macbeth into Morse code, the WWI-era message system.

Ernesto R. Gómez, a current graduate student at the LDSOA, gives us the gateway work to the show; an outdoor sculptural installation, Gomez’s Structural Criterion will appear to be buttressing the walls of the Chase Park Warehouse building, both on the ATHICA porch and outside of Eo Studios. The work, made of four separate identical large steel constructions, presents both a physical and metaphoric construct that is at once absurd and monumental. His work will both absorb and be absorbed by the environment. (This is the first time a public outdoor sculpture has been shown beyond the confines of the ATHICA porch, thanks to the support of the Chase Park Warehouse Condo Association.)

John O’Connor from Brooklyn, New York will show a selection from his Lottery Grid series, clever, Dada-inspired drawings on found ephemera–pages of a stranger’s efforts to predict lottery ticket numbers. Unable to comprehend the dense numeric codes, viewers are confronted with their randomness, yet as they have been splendidly color-coded by the artist, we can apprehend them visually. (O’Connor is represented by Pierogi Gallery, New York.)

Julia Oldham, who is a dual resident of New York, New York and Eugene, Oregon, is contributing a large compilation of video performance works. Two bodies of work are represented, Spiders and Insects and The Timber as well as drawings from the series Churr-Churr Ziz Ziz Ziz. In these time-based performance works, Oldham attempts to deconstruct and understand small creatures’ patterns of behavior. Her use of scientific data to create art is in part influenced by her parents’ interests, one a physicist and another an avid gardener. (She has also collaborated with scientists on past projects.) By mapping and literally acting out insects’ movements, she grasps the fundamental phenomena of the natural world, creating a bridge between factual data and interpretation.

London-based artist Andrew Sunderland provides the exhibit with Cahir, his answer to the amusing question of how many ways a chair pack from IKEA can be re-configured. His experiment was captured on the antiquated medium of 35 mm slides, which will be shown using a carousel slide projector. The piece absurdly seems to simulate instructions on how not to put together a simple chair 81 times.

Cody Vanderkaay, a recent MFA from the Lamar Dodd School of Art (LDSOA) at UGA, is now Professor of Art at Oakland University in Michigan. His conceptually oriented, methodically drawn works are meditations on the antiquated form of communication: the telegraph. The works from his Telegraph Series become visual poetry and are awe inspiring in their process and labor.

The Blue Building drawings of Atlantan Andy Moon Wilson add a dizzily phantasmagorical interpretation of urban structures. The works are meticulous, tiny and often “framed” in Ziplock™ bags. Simultaneously resembling architectural renderings and obsessive doodles, Moons’ works could be plans for structures caught in a time machine.

A variety of affiliated events will enhance viewers’ experience with the exhibits’ themes, such as The Way Things Go, a video screening night co-curated by Didi Dunphy, ATHICA and Lauren Fancher of 6X6 Media Events. This video programming will be screened both on May 4th, 2011, 7pm at Cine in downtown Athens as well as on Friday, May 27th during the exhibit’s closing weekend. Artists from Berlin to New York, using a variety of projected image strategies from re-edited found footage to task driven performance will be featured. Participating artists include: Eve Bailey (Brooklyn, NY), Christian Croft (New York, NY) Celeste Fitcher (Brooklyn, NY), Dave Griffiths (United Kingdom), Maud Haya-Baviera, (Sheffield, United Kingdom), Gareth Hudson (United Kingdom), Plan b (Berlin, Germany) and Katherine Tolladay (United Kingdom).

Collectively, the works in ATHICA’s spring exhibition are sure to astonish and intrigue as they introduce viewers to these artists’ surprising revelations of the way things work.

Curator: Didi Dunphy
Assistant Curator: Megan Kluttz

April 9 – May 29, 2011

Affiliated Events
Friday, April 22
7-9 p.m.
Green Lines: Environmentally Inspired Readings of Original Works by Local
Curated by Dr. Susan Rosenbaum, UGA Department of English
$3 – $6 Suggested donation (but no one turned away for lack of funds.)

Thursday, April 28
7-8 p.m.
Walk & Talk
Discuss the works in the exhibition informally with Assistant Curator
Megan Kluttz and Curator Didi Dunphy.

Wednesday, May 4
7–8 p.m.
A 6×6 Media Arts Event: The Way Things Go
at the Ciné Lab Space (234 W. Hancock Ave.)
Video Artworks Co-Curated by Lauren Fancher & Didi Dunphy

Participating Video Artists:
Eve Bailey, Christian Croft & Andrew Schneider, Celeste Fichter, Dave
Griffiths, Maud Haya-Baviera, Gareth Hudson, Plan b, Katharine Tolladay

Saturday, May 14
3-4 p.m.
Kids Make Things Work
Kids 12 and under are invited to participate in an afternoon of art
appreciation activities relating to the exhibit, led by educational
Coordinator Sage Rogers.
$3 – $6 Suggested donation (but no one turned away for lack of funds.)

Closing Weekend Events:
Friday, May 27
8:30-9:30 p.m.
The Way Things Go 2: An AMT Video Art Experience
Video Artworks Co-Curated by Lauren Fancher & Didi Dunphy
(See may 14 for artist list)
Shown on the Adjustable Media Theater, a new portable video-viewing
environment created by exhibit sculptor Ernesto R. Gómez with
collaborators Scott Higgs and David Mitchell.
The AMT is funded by UGA’s ICE (Ideas for Creative Exploration).

Sunday, May 29
3-6 p.m.
Curator & Artist Panel Discussion
Followed by audience Q & A
Other events TBA

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