Sunday, September 25, 2016

Anarchitecture at the CAC

Filling all of the Contemporary Arts Center's exhibition spaces, this huge 40th anniversary exhibition features over 50 artists including some CAC founders as well as newly emerging talents. Inspired by city life, it harks to Anarchitecture, a 1970s movement that included Louisianians Tina Girouard and Dickie Landry as well as Laurie Anderson and Gordon Matta-Clark, who was known for carving old buildings into sculpture. The dizzying diversity of these works can be overwhelming, but they all relate to the built environment. For instance, Songs of Home Songs of Change, top, by Jebney Lewis, Rick Snow and Christopher Staudinger features curved metal platforms laced with elongated brass horns. Pulsing with enigmatic drone-like resonances, it is both a sound map of New Orleans and a musical instrument that could be used to accompany the sounds of the city. On the wall, three techno-totems by AnnieLaurie Erikson are actually sculptural photographs of the computer circuits used to disseminate the vast seas of data we now inhabit like so much human plankton.

Techno-abstraction prevails in Nurhan Gokturk's tornado-like sculpture crafted from shredded vinyl LPs, top left, and Jan Gilbert's abstract collages cobbled from sliced and diced photos of building facades. Existential gravitas infuses Ted Calas's German Tea series of lyrically austere café paintings, but intriguing randomness defines the public spaces in Celia and Jose Fernandes' photographic diptych, Anita, even as vintage reveries are conveyed via land line in Monica Zeringue's psychically fraught Twilight collage, above left. The boundaries of architecture get stretched a bit in Jennifer Odem's oddly cellular, stiffly ossified yet vaguely levitational fabric sculptures, and in Anita Cooke's Strata series, above, of equally osseous complexly rolled forms like manuscripts in a Library of Alexandria crafted by arachnids. Meanwhile upstairs, we are reminded that the sea is rising and America is sinking in Robert Tannen's maps of Gulf Coast counties now facing inundation. But Manon Bellet's wall-size Breves Braises abstraction segues that sense of loss into an “ashes to ashes” modality where burnt silk ashes gradually crumble and fall inexorably to the floor. Years ago, the French philosopher Gaston Bachelard wrote eloquently about how the spaces we inhabit affect us, and vice versa. This show extends the boundaries of habitation to sonic space, cyberspace and beyond. ~Bookhardt / A Building With A View: Experiments in Anarchitecture: Regional Group Exhibition, Through October 1, Contemporary Arts Center, 900 Camp St., 528.3805.