Saturday, December 8, 2007
You're in My Space
Water Park #1
Wisconsin Dells, WI
New Orleans, LA
Two of my photographs, Water Park #1 and Back Door, are showing in an exhibition called "You're in My Space" which opened last night at Gallery 2 and Project Space at the School of The Art Institute of Chicago.
"You're in my space" explores and reinterprets our physical surroundings, drawing on personal, psychological and cultural relationships. The artists included in this exhibition investigate different notions of space: abstracted locations, remembered sites, and re-contextualized environments. Recognizable spaces are transformed, creating the possibility for an unexpected discovery.
Other artists included in the exhibition are: Rob Bos, Jesse Avina, Ann Toebbe, Angel Otero, Dan Everett, Gisela Instuaste, Valerie Magarian and Zachary Skinner.
I made a series of three images of the Kalahari Water Park Resort in the Wisconsin Dells in the late winter of 2004. I frequently drove by this water park en route to Chicago from Minneapolis on I-94 and was intrigued by this colorful play-land for Midwestern families. Often, I pass places at the side of the road with a sense of regret that these sites are so close and yet inaccessible, but on this particular drive on an overcast afternoon, I pulled off of the interstate and navigated my way through the resort's immense parking lot. It was off-season and the park was mostly deserted. Some of the pools where before I had seen bodies splashing in the sun-light were drained, leaving large and empty and modernist shapes, or where water remained, it was uncannily quiet and still. The absurdity of these giant plastic animals that embody Kalahari's allure seemed heightened by their aloneness in this dreary and desolate manufactured landscape.
Despite my wariness of a preoccupation with this subject matter, animal figures seem to inevitably creep into my pictures. In October of 2005, I made a short trip to Louisiana that was originally motivated by a desire to shoot video footage of the legendary Angola Prison Rodeo for a project that sadly never amounted to much more than a cool experience. Before the rodeo, I spent two days in New Orleans driving through the city with friends, absorbing and photographing some of the damage that Hurricane Katrina had left two months earlier.
D. and I spent the night with one of her artist friends from graduate school, and in the morning, I was struck by what I discovered at his back door. A taxidermy deer head hung above a dark puppet whose arms dangled from strings and which was illuminated by a slant of morning sun-light passing through the slightly cracked door. It was in this juxtaposition of these charged symbolic elements that I felt acutely attune to the mysterious and complex history of the region. It felt as though New Orleans revealed a sliver of itself to me in a quiet moment that might have been so much easier to overlook than the collapsed houses and stark contrasts of the surrounding neighborhoods.