October 26th, 2008  | Categories: Bidder vs. 10lb Ape     Newer Entries »  

Mixed media Installation, variable dimensions

You are visiting the 1st Public White Cube, and we wouldn’t be at all surprised if some of you reminded us, even with a trace of reproach, about the noble traditions to which we have committed ourselves by choosing this particular name. White Cube – surely that’s the exalted architectural gala-uniform that museums and galleries prescribe themselves so that they can present artworks in the most neutral way possible? And so how is it, you may well ask, that the opening exhibition consists of an admixed, do-it-yourself cube that may be any number of things, but certainly isn’t pure white?

Here Ten Pound Ape – a collective founded in the Mexican town Guanajuato in 2004 - reveal something like the suppressed subconscious of the pure exhibition space per se. As Ten Pound Ape, Ilka Vasconcelos Araujo, Penelope Armada, Archie M. Purvis, John Fischer Stevenson III, Matt Wardell and of course Gustavo Herrera have already been working on the analysis and de-montage of cultural myths for some years. When they were invited to develop the first exhibit for the 1st Public White Cube 2008 in the SFMOMA, the group quickly decided that it couldn’t be a straightforward painting or a simple sculpture, but quasi a separation of consciousness from the idea of the neutral exhibition space that isolates its artworks. Refuse from urban space forms a compact mix with typical objects from the Ten Pound Ape treasure trove, a rampant sculpture that is half domicile, half organic image of the contradictory world outside the museum.

This site-specific installation is alive – as we will see not only on the opening evening, when Ten Pound Ape will inhabit the cube, performing music from within it and distributing printed soothsaying prophecies. Afterwards, the casing will become a respectable sculpture, but one in which the public may follow in the artists’ footsteps. Viewers are called upon to provide their own (also musical) performances, allowed to participate in the soothsaying, or to use the construction as a lounge for general relaxation. Certainly the 1st Public White Cube project begins with opposition to one, and a strong vote in favour of the other component of its name. Public yes, but White no, our artists say here, and it will be interesting to see the first audience intervention. Will it develop on this criticism of the exhibition space, or attempt to smooth over and tidy up the contradictions?