Book Club: Going Native at Durden and Ray
By Sydney Walters
Through May 28th
For Durden and Ray’s latest show, Book Club: Going Native, curator Stephen Wolkoff assembled artists he knew could take a bizarre novel and produce experimental and innovative art. He asked a bartender, a hair stylist, an architect and a composer to join the ranks of visual artists to create a gallery happening inspired by Stephen Wright’s book Going Native.
Influenced by the cross-country road trip in Jack Kerouac’s On the Road, Going Native is a seven chaptered saga where each chapter can either stand alone or read as a delightfully splintered novel. The tricky thing with basing an exhibit on an obscure text rather than a recognized piece of literature is making both accessible and interpretable art. Eighteen creatives probe into the consciousness of Stephen Wright and emerge with diverse work that carries enough similarities in imagery and symbolism to transport viewers into Wright’s dark comedy.
During the opening, actress and artist Kate Kelton reads an excerpt from Going Native. Meanwhile, Ania Catherine choreographs eight performers to meander around visitors or to station themselves in thoughtful poses around the gallery. The intimate closeness between performers and visitors activates tension between those “in” and “out” of the performance. Under Catherine’s orchestration, the audience becomes the landscape making for an amusing commentary of interpretation and audience’s appetite to be informed.
Some artists dwell on a specific motifs such as toy designer Dave Bondi who made plastic squirt guns for the exhibit. With them, people are invited to load the gun with the alcoholic beverage specially crafted by mixologist Robin Jackson and squirt an absinthe concoction into one another’s mouths. Michael Webster, another immersive artist, installs speakers on opposite corners of the gallery to play his sound pieces, Anxiety and Depression. Anxiety blares a cringe-worthy high-pitched frequency and Depression emits a low, melancholy hum.
Artist Dani Dodge considers the book as a whole. In Previously Unthinkable Patterns, an assemblage of paint, duct tape, wedding ring party favors and even pieces of a wedding dress went though a process of construction and deconstruction as she worked on the piece chapter by chapter. She documents her experience traversing through the text and crafts notable markers from each portion of the book, thus making Previously Unthinkable Patterns into a literary road map.
Jayna Zweiman, architect and co-founder of the Pussyhat Project, contributes It considered other facts, other views. The sculpture is a long, mirrored triangular structure, best viewed when two people look at each other through the ends. The result is a kaleidoscopic effect of the person’s image endlessly multiplied within the installation. With her background in architecture, Zweiman is fascinated by structures that challenge perception. The emerald green coating on the outside of the sculpture alludes to the green Galaxy 500 that protagonist Wylie Jones drives on his journey from Chicago to Los Angeles. The changing reflections on the interior of her sculpture indicate the dynamic shifts of perspective as directed by landscape and story.
Book Club: Going Native features the work of Ania Catherine, Ben Jackel, Constance Mallinson, Dani Dodge, Dave Bondi, David Leapman, Kate Kelton, Gavin Bunner, Jayna Zweiman, Jenny Hager, Jon Flack, Kio Griffith, Liza Ryan, Michael Webster, Robin Jackson, Steven Wolkoff, Tom Dunn and Traci Sakosits and Matthew Kazarian.
Durden and Ray is located at 1923 S Santa Fe Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90021
Book Club: Going Native runs through May 28, 2017