Sunday, July 22, 2018

Art of Vanitas by Generic Art Solutions / Here and Now by Meg Turner at Good Children Gallery

An unusually eloquent text intro to this Art of Vanitas show reminds us that our social media identities not only “outlive us" but also "muddle the moment we are trying to capture" in our postings. The Dutch renaissance painters also focused on everyday indulgences that seduced the senses, but they brought us back to earth by including skulls and insects amid their gorgeous tableaux of food and flowers. In this show, Tony Campbell and Matt Vis strip that dynamic down to stark black and white photographs of iconic objects crafted in ice, that most impermanent of materials. In Vanitas, top, an ice skull next to a melting mantle clock and a shattered mirror reminds us that impermanence is what actually makes wonder and meaning possible. Humor never hurts, and Ice Teeth, above left, is a photo of an upper and lower jaw like cast-ice dental impressions in place of ice cubes in a whiskey glass. Time Kills is the electric blue animated message that confronts us in an otherwise pristine mirror that serendipitously reflects a pair of photo blowups of ice skulls across the room flanking a framed wall motto, The End, rendered in elegant italic script. No, it's not really the end but, as these artists put it, we “sacrifice the purity of our experience” to “preserve its memory in digital code” ensuring that “our vanity and egos remain... while our awareness actually erodes...” And that is a slow, painful death of another sort.

Direct experience also defines Meg Turner's visceral Here & Now installation, her vision of “a gay bar turned corner store” that cranks out spotlit slogans like “The Actual Truth: God Hates Borders; Loves Gay Porn” under banner signs advertising “Beer, Tax Help, Fruit, Tampons, WiFi and Massage” among other, often much pithier, items, all bathed in lurid red neon light. A version of her Columbia University MFA thesis that was recently attacked by Breitbart News, its reprise here on her old Nola home turf gives us a spirited exploration of gender orientation, among other trending issues, that avoids tedious academic polemics while keeping it all rollickingly real in her own relentlessly unique way. ~Bookhardt / The Art of Vanitas: Mixed Media Works by Generic Art Solutions; Here and Now: Installation and Video by Meg Turner; Through Aug 5, Good Children Gallery, 4037 St. Claude Ave., 616-7427.