Also on show HERE
A Unicorn Basking in the Light of Three Glowing Suns
The Devos Art Museum
School of Art & Design at Northern Michigan University
October 8 – November 14, 2010
Curated by Anthony Elms and Philip von Zweck (front gallery)
Live performance by the Terminal Orchestra (Marquette, MI) during reception.
This exhibition presents a number of artists and artworks that navigate the intersections where bureaucratic information and fantasy define each other.
Science fiction and other forms of speculative entertainment often posit a future or parallel world where nature, science and culture function according to different laws. Of course, in order for the audience to understand the nuances, differences and allusions to their own world, common tropes, structures and objects are required to recognize what is not of this world. The borders need to readily legible in order for accepted notions to be placed in crisis.
The clarity of information is often ridiculously humbled whenever new findings reveal the limitations of classification and the orderliness of fact is found too be more permeable than the press would have us believe. And as anyone with a passing knowledge of the science fiction, or really almost any genre, can attest often the road to otherworldly will be bogged down by the endless repletion of detail, factoids, technical minutae and busywork. The XX artists or groups featured have each in their own way let it be known that statements of fact are not enough, and that fantasy never escapes the boundaries of what we can imagine.
This world is trouble. We know it. We could spell out the why and how, but that tale would hardly result in any dream worth having. In 2008, when discussing artistic strategies that claim the legacy of 1968, British artist Liam Gillick made the following observation: “for every artist' collective that offers information in lieu of a fourth estate no longer meeting its obligations, there is a small painting of a unicorn basking in the light of three glowing suns.” This statement was the genesis for the exhibition. The jarring quality of this comparison is just how similar the two supposedly diametrically opposed poles seem. A Unicorn Basking in the Light of Three Glowing Suns addresses, sometimes passively and sometimes though negation, those things that socially construct desire. For where is ideology more blatant than in a dream?
To which, we paraphrase a question posed by Chicago-based artist and activist Laurie Jo Reynolds: if a man falls down a well, do you write a poem about it or do you get him out of the well?
Our response is clear: you refuse such reductive choices. You document and dream until somehow it is simply not possible to imagine a world where wells are not considered appropriate places in which a man should fall. What if, for example, the popular yet thread-worn mantra “there is freedom on this canvas”, spoken often by television painting instructor Bob Ross, had transformative implications for your body and politics? Would you fill out all the forms to be a happy tree?