Friday, April 21, 2006

“Smart Ass” at Southern Exposure

Southern Exposure’s recent exhibit was called “Smart Ass,” but I was a dumb-ass in neglecting to make a return visit. The day I saw the show, I needed to leave before watching Shannon Plumb’s videos or listening to the whole of Ben Riesman’s audio piece. I planned to go back and then blog about it in full. But I never made it.

The exhibit was curated by Kelsey Nicholson. One standout was Dustin Fosnot, a young artist whose playfulness immediately lifts your spirits. He often uses Styrofoam as a material and likes to make contraptions that move Styrofoam pellets around. The sculptures look like models for larger constructions in a science museum or an offbeat theme park. In one piece, a circle of small fans blows Styro-pellets around like drifting snow (photo below). In another, an Earth globe is torn open to reveal a column of slowly moving Styro-pellets under the watchful eye of a tiny figure in a protective suit (photo at top).

Ryan Thayer reprised a couple of his signature works. One was a huge version of his ceiling tile walls, in which a wall looks like an office building ceiling—ceiling tiles, florescent light panels, air ducts. Another was his take on office cubicles (photo below, adapted from the artist’s website).

I sampled Ben Riesman’s self-help audio, “Visualize Sleeping Your Way to the Top.” It was presented complete with a comfy armchair. I regret not hearing the whole piece, as the sample was enticing. Both in script and voice it was precisely calibrated to sound genuine.

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