Sunday, December 18, 2011

Ambient Video and Mixed Media at the Pearl

It's a 200 year old farm house posing as a nondescript Bywater residence. It has served as a private salon and performance hall for owner Jay Poggi and his friends for over 20 years, and it has long been filled with weird wonders and curiosities. Now functioning as a satellite facility of Prospect.2, it has also become an exhibition space for an eclectic assortment of art works curated by John Otte. Because it was so already densely populated with quaint and improbable objects, most of the new art takes the form of video projections that can be beamed into the rare empty spot, or into existing fixtures like the antique bathtub that is now filled with  Courtney Egan's sublime time-lapse video of night blooming cereus flowers, above left, slowly unfolding in perpetual electronic efflorescence. It would probably be a great piece anywhere, but in that tub in the shadowy gloom it is magical. In similar fashion, the cracked plaster wall where Lee Deigaard's STEADY STAR video animation, top, of a trotting horse is projected gives it the mystical aura of a cave painting or Etruscan fresco come to life. And Adrina Adrina and Elliot Coon's WARRIOR video loop of mustachioed Amazon women in the buff hints at a feminist take on Robinson Crusoe in their darkened corner of the space, while THE CAGE video by Kenyan-German duo Ingrid Mwangi and Robert Hutter would be creepy under any circumstances, but in the dungeon gloom of a disheveled shed structure the ghost of Hitchcock seems to lurk in the shadows. Also lurking in the recesses was Jennifer Odem's curious FLORA PEARLINIOUS plaster sculpture like a baroque inner organ surgically removed from a humanoid extraterrestrial giant, an object of contemplation and wonder. Three years in the making, this exhibition was intended by curator John Otte to integrate contemporary art with something of the baroquely eclectic and eccentric culture of the city, which the Pearl embodies like a Creole bohemian time capsule. ~Bookhardt

Constant Abrasive Irritation Produces the Pearl: Mixed Media and Video Exhibition, Through Jan. 29, The Pearl, 639 Desire St., 404-840-2628