The quiet art of description and house music

On TBA's opening night, a time for weirdness and coincidence


Well, if you didn’t make it to the extravaganza that was the grand opening of TBA:2012 at Washington High School last night, I’ll let you watch this video to see and hear the best part of going when there is a lot/too much happening:
Morgan Ritter’s installation to the tune of Venus X.

Opening night is for weird experiences and coincidences like this. It is not a night to go and see the art with your full attention. Many I came across had not and were not even going into the school, and were instead waiting for a quieter, more opportune time to peruse the visual arts component, “End Things.”

The visual arts portion feels smaller and more subdued this year (at least the Washington High portion). With only four classrooms occupied, I was left wondering what to see next. However, this year is also a no-nonsense, minimal exhibition. Here are things. Look at them. Think about them. Act on them and that.

As if to help you on this course, all three of the open, non-performative classrooms (Alex Cecchetti’s relay performance being the exception) are accompanied by some sort of explanatory or seemingly explanatory text. Morgan Ritter’s text, written in plain terms, tells you exactly what is going on in the room: a variety of cats on beanbags and peach-colored floors and walls. “None of these thoughts are metaphorical,” the wall text proclaims. It seemed almost too straightforward. The house music kept me from figuring out if it was.

Erika Vogt’s suspended objects created a tension both real and art-historical. The “Field of Debris” was rife with allusions to Minimalist and Postminimalist work that explored the cast-off detritus of industry and society. Each object was referenced in a printed takeaway, but the connection requires a more substantial exploration of the space. I may be told what the things are, but I also need to see it for myself.

Van Brummelen & De Haan’s video installation is one that I will need to go back to as well. The monotonous click-clack of the projector is a well-chosen ambient accompaniment to the screen test-like video off to the side. There is both an air of experimental film and dusty art-history lecture in this installation that need to be experienced at a time when you can give your full attention.

Alas, the entrance line kept me from making it into the Alex Cecchetti performance, but it looked crammed! There were also some very cryptic chalk drawings on the board afterward. …

Photo: Nim Wunnan


All of the installations at Washington High School right now hold up under curator Kristan Kennedy’s statement. Each artist has “let the thing do its thing.” Differing amounts of information lead to differing amounts of understanding. Where you may think there is too much, you realize there is not enough. A simple description that reads like a grant proposal. A vague one that reads like a poem. A poetic one read to you in a foreign tongue. Cats puking to techno music.

Ritter/Venus X video credit: Graham W. Bell

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