Arts » Visual Art

Double Visions

Artist-couples join forces at SPACES

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The five EXHIBITS NOW ON view at SPACES cover a lot of ground, featuring artists working in installation, video and performance media. Much of the subject matter has to do with broad social and aesthetic situations, like Elizabeth Emery's SPACELab exhibit "the nurse and the police officer" (encouraging audiences to examine their own racial and gender prejudices) and Robin Latkovich's "Evocation/Presence" (essentially a dark room enclosing a short series of steps, demonstrating how quickly the senses respond to disorientation and deprivation). Then there's SPACES World Artist Program's Blaise Carrier-Chouinard of Québec, who seems to have teamed up with one of Dan Brown's "symbologists" to create a mind-mending surrealist miniature golf hole.

The main show is about the practice of contemporary art. An installation by the Chicago-based collective Temporary Services presents the pages of its newspaper Art Work duct-taped at eye level.  The tightly printed 40-page compilation of essays on the history and future of art as work, business and theory also sits in bales on the gallery floor. It's available at distribution points throughout the U.S. and Puerto Rico. SPACES visitors can help themselves to a copy or two.

Through a curtain, the back half of SPACES' galleries also displays work dealing with art production, though in more personal terms. Co-existing and Co-llaborating is curated by veteran conceptual collaborator Mary Magsamen of Houston. Working with her husband Stephan Hillerbrand, Magsamen has become a fixture on the national scene. This exhibit screens videos by five artist-couples who work together to compose fantasies and meditations about beauty, boredom and contemporary life.

Most elaborate is "I'll Replace You," a fast-paced, 16-minute exploration of identity by Jennifer and Kevin McCoy. The McCoys, who have been making video installations together since the late 1990s, are known for indexing things that aren't usually indexed. For example, their 2001 project "Every Shot, Every Episode" categorized 10,000 frames from the 1970s TV series Starsky and Hutch. For the present video, they hired 50 actors to play the roles of the McCoys — interacting with their actual kids (who must have had a ball), working at the university, visiting galleries, dining out and so on, divided into morning, afternoon and evening sections. The resulting chaos of personas is engaging enough to make you wish it was longer.

Other collaborations by Emily Vey Duke and Cooper Battersby, Travis and Dana Hammer, Darrin Martin and Jamil Hellu, Potter Belmar Labs (Leslie Reymond and Jason Jay Stevens), and Robyn Voshardt and Sven Humphrey tackle themes ranging from homosexual negation in early photography to the potential for goodness in a world owned and operated by a senile deity, plus a consideration of the sublime in nature as perceived by overburdened modern eyes. Whether dealing with philosophical concerns or the ins and outs of daily life, this show demonstrates some of the strengths of current video and installation art. 

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