Monday, May 07, 2007

Pete Nelson at Blankspace (Oakland)

Pete Nelson's installation at Blankspace last month was the sort of project that's unlikely to appear in a commercial gallery. But it was a perfect match for the artist-run Blankspace, where a principal goal is to give artists the freedom to experiment.

The installation was entitled, "There Ain't No Party Like a Holy Ghost Party." Drawing on his Kentucky background and the religious fervor of family members, he created a space in which faith and addiction co-existed. There were several elements in the setup. On one small platform, a pair of large speakers were placed one on top of the other, face to face. From these, the sound of evangelical preachers was triggered as you moved into the gallery. (One of the voices was that of Marjoe Gortner, the subject of a noted 1972 documentary.)

In one corner of the gallery, near the ceiling, there was a video screen showing a circular pattern in which your image appeared and disappeared as you walked around the space. Two wooden benches were lined up in front of this video screen.

In the back, on another little platform, was a bathtub turned on its side, with a keg inside it and a distillery bottle under the platform. A copper pipe ran from this moonshine storage area to a water fountain. If you drank from this baptismal fountain, your mouth was filled with liquor distilled by the artist himself. A small video camera was installed at the back of the fountain—the source of the projected images.

Several views of this installation are provided below.

No comments: