Kokomo::May 9th – June 21st
Greg Ruppe::Jeff Gibbons
Opening Reception and Performance May 9th 6-9PM
‘Dry again?’ said the Crab to the Rock-Pool. ‘So would you be,’ replied the Rock-Pool, ‘if you had to satisfy, twice a day, the insatiable sea.’
A Hydro-Acoustical Movement In Two Parts:
With Jeff Gibbons, Sally Glass, Gregory Ruppe, Danny Skinner, Hiroe Watanabe
Kokomo at galleryHOMELAND is the third in a series of shows that the artists Greg Ruppe and Jeff Gibbons have collaborated on in the last year, and it likely will not be the last.
The shows, while packed tight with information that feeds the artists’ process—from coded scientific references to obscure philosophical texts to chance encounters with lobsters in tanks at the grocery store—are built around, in fact, a very simple framework of ideas. The artists are interested in the ways in which the trappings of contemporary life keep us at a distance from reality, and in how our desires, while easily sated in so many ways by technology, can seem entirely impossible to realize on any profound or lasting level. We seem to inhabit, the artists suggest, a fictional realm—an island, let’s say—that is as much a prison as it is a paradise.
The artists employ these ideas of the finite and the imaginary in a variety of ways within the work, relying principally on the environment and architecture of the gallery space to create corollaries between the body, the mind, and the technological systems that so often mediate contemporary experience. In their first show together, called Pure Duration a Beetle on its Back at Beefhaus in Dallas, a series of videos played on a large wall in a small gallery space. There was no opening reception to announce the show’s launch; the videos just started running and passersby could stop and watch from the street, not knowing who the artists were or indeed if what they were seeing was even meant to be art, making the work carry a very explicit anonymity. The videos were a random assortment of shots of the quotidian or banal, often with a macabre tone—a church steeple, a road turned upside down, a mountain of paper being climbed by grown men, potatoes cooking on the stove, an empty parking lot gilded with palm trees. A wall was also constructed in the gallery, blocking off part of the space and making it inaccessible, though the remainder of the show—a series of sculptural objects—was installed on the other side, unable to be viewed. Unless the artists told you so, a viewer would have had no idea that anything lay on the other side of the wall, or indeed that the architecture even continued past it.
This play between the accessible and the everyday alongside the unknown or exclusive appears to lie at the center of Ruppe and Gibbon’s work together. But their keeping of things off-limits, caged, trapped and restrained hints at a struggle that has less to do with political power than it does with a deeply personal and human sense of internal conflict and entrapment. In their second exhibition together, this time in San Antonio in a show called Necrotic Black Black Swimming Pool With A Heavy Mossy Surface Film at The Epitome Institute, they found themselves inspired by the sight of a lobster swimming in that aforementioned grocery store tank. For the artists, the crustacean became a kind of tidy modern symbol of loneliness—a creature that wears its armor on the outside and is trapped in a tank he can’t escape while he watches the world pass him by through the glass. So for the show, Ruppe and Gibbons constructed a similar tank and filled it with anti-freeze, outfitting it with a small light. They then dropped sound equipment into the liquid so that in the dark gallery the tank glowed and emitted an ambient but mechanical sound, while a pair of videos—one of a green-tinted room shot with a POV from low to the ground as if on a bed, and the other an animated film of snow in a post-human landscape—played just behind the tank. While no lobster was present, the absence of something living in the tank was felt, and the hollow sound of the amplified liquid compounded the sense of a void, making the structure of the tank suggest its habitation by a ghost forced to look out on scenes of a claustrophobic room, fake nature, and weather. The effect of these layers of false or stifling vistas on the senses was that of exponential isolation—from the shell of the architecture of the building right down to the interior spaces of the deeply private, personal imagination housed within the body, each space Ruppe and Gibbons reference is inhabited in a protracted solitude.
In his book Warped Space: Art, Architecture, and Anxiety in Modern Culture, cultural historian Anthony Vidler addresses the troubling experience of modernity’s spaces, both built and psychological. “From the beginning of the century, the apparently fixed laws of perspective have been transformed, transgressed, and ignored in the search to represent the space of modern identity. Thus the body in pieces, physiognomy distorted by inner pain, architectural space as claustrophobic, urban spaces as agoraphobic, all warpings of the normal to express the pathological became the leitmorifs of avant-garde art,” he says. “The vocabularies of displacement and fracture, torqueing and twisting, pressure and release, void and block, informe and hyper-form that they developed are still active today, deployed in work that seeks to reveal, if not critique, the conditions of a less than settled everyday life.” Certainly, Vidler’s suggestion that our minds and bodies are effected by our environment, and vice versa, finds resonance in the work of Ruppe and Gibbons.
For this third show, Kokomo, the artists will build upon the manifold architecture of isolation and artifice that they have sustained throughout their collaboration. Anchored by an elaborate sound sculpture that has roots in the earlier lobster tank piece, this exhibition will further extend the system of vistas and containment that, if put to it, Ruppe and Gibbons could open and close indefinitely. – Lucia Simek
Jeff Gibbons (b. Detroit, 1982) received his MFA in Intermedia at the University of Texas at Arlington in 2013. Selected exhibitions in Dallas, Texas include Oliver Francis Gallery, CentralTrak Gallery, The McKinney Ave Contemporary, The Goss-Michael Foundation, Conduit Gallery; The Texas Biennial, The Dallas Biennial, and Red Arrow Contemporary. International exhibitions include KoncertKirken, Denmark; The Berlin Becher Triennial, German; Réunion Gallery, Zürich, Switzerland, and Hiroshima Art Center, Hiroshima, Japan. He recently received the Dallas Observer 2015 Mastermind Award and the Dallas Museum of Art: Art Ball Prize, exhibited at the Dallas Art Fair, and co-created the 2013-2014 exhibition series Deep Ellum Windows with artist Justin Ginsberg. He has been an artist in residence at CentralTrak, and The Goss-Michael Foundation in Dallas, Texas.
Gregory Ruppe (b. Houston, 1979) holds an MFA from Texas Christian University and currently lives and works in Dallas, Texas. He co-founded the experimental artist collective Homecoming! Committee (2011-2014), has worked as a writer and educator of art and has been an invited artist-in-resident at CentralTrak, Dallas, Texas; ConceptOK, Tulsa, Oklahoma; and TCC South Camps, Fort Worth, Texas. Selected exhibitions include Réunion Gallery, Zürich, Switzerland; Hiroshima Art Center, Hiroshima, Japan; The Glasgow International at The Modern Institute, Glasgow, UK; The Calder at Hepworth-Wakefield, West Yorkshire, UK; The Berlin Becher Triennial, Berlin, Germany; The Texas Biennial, San Antonio, Texas; The Dallas Museum of Art, and The Nasher Sculpture Center, Dallas, Texas.
Please join us May 9th 6-9pm with performance at 7:30pm at galleryHOMELAND. For more information call 503-819-9656 or email Paul@galleryhomeland.org