The artists in Commitment to Scenario at once provide the ‘look’ necessary to create effective engagement of the viewer but also connect their imagery with that of the world where the ‘scene’ foregrounds an actual representation of our time.
Since 2008, Craig Drennen (Atlanta, Georgia) has mined the characters and inconsistencies of Shakespeare’s Timon of Athens. Never performed in Shakespeare’s lifetime (considered “failed” in this regard) and the indeterminacy of the play’s legitimate history provide space in which Drennen has been able to expand and on and rearticulate the language of the famed playwright. Drennen arduously develops each character with distinct contemporary associations—Warhol’s Dracula, men’s and women’s basketballs, photographs of well-known artists—that continue to evolve into the artist’s own account of Timon of Athens.
Gregory Eltringham’s (Savannah, Georgia) painted “dream houses” are a psychoanalytic depiction of human characteristics manifested as images of hybrid suburban 1950s architecture. Hung alongside his portraits of costumed characters the houses and bodies seem to complete a narrative with one another like a film montage. Rendered using a complimentary palette Eltringham emphasizes the link between them while the stiffened shapes of the figures and blurred detailing of his painterly approach allow for a blurring of imagery and further engaging this mysterious plot-like arrangement.
Rashawn Griffin’s (Olathe, Kansas) wall piece made with tassels and his mixed media collage works are part of a transitional period. Previously using triangular cloth pennants that were emblazoned with “Griffin, KS,” a fictitious town that the artist had been envisioning for an exhibition and now seeing this repeated pattern in new works. Untitled (let it go) (2013) recalls the shape of the pennants and the panels in Untitled (man o’ man) (2013-15) continue to evolve and share a visual language amongst one another that Griffin explains as akin to Frankenstein’s lab, where he makes a new body from separate parts.
The selection of hand-scratched illustrations in the exhibition are from Line Hoven’s comic book debut Liebe Schaut weg ('Love looks away') and tells the partial story of three generations of her German and American family. Scenes from her grandparent’s stations in WWII to their then later refusal of her American mother and German father to wed, Hoven reaches deep into the memories of the past and attempts to reconcile them in the pages of a story from her perspective. Knowingly unable to recreate the past as a truth, Hoven accepts the limitations of oral and photographic history and attempts to unpack her own path and narrative as part of a complex family.
Traveling across parts of the United States Josef Schulz’s (Düsseldorf, Germany) black and white photographic and a video series captures disenfranchised American industry. These quiet images of abandoned structures of once functional small American businesses emphasize a “societies withdrawing political interest, of our advanced societies withdrawing social interest.”i Josef is committed to the aesthetics of abandoned structures and retaining their reference to impactful historical moments throughout Europe and the United States while using digital manipulation to give them presence in our current epoch. Perhaps Schulz’s images in this exhibition stand as monuments that pay homage to an era of our pre-technological world.
The exhibition is curated by Erin Dziedzic, curator and head of adult programs at the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art in Kansas City, Missouri. Most recently Dziedzic has organized the first survey of the work of New York-based painter Adam Cvijanovic in American Montage (2015). Dziedzic is Founder/Editor of artcore journal (www.artcorejournal.net), an online biannual contemporary art journal begun in 2011.
i Jean Baudrillard, America, trans. Chris Turner (London, New York: Verso), 1988, 112-113.