Weight of the World at DAAP

February 5, 2008

I caught the tail end of the “Weight of the World” show at the University of Cincinnati’s College of Design, Architecture, Art and Planning. Maiza Hixson and Ryan Mulligan curated the uneven show, but it has some gems.

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One is not Laurel Nakadate‘s video of herself with a lonely man, a grounded bird and the burning WTC. The show’s theme is loss, and her pedigreed work the central piece. I find it rather flat, and borderline exploitative; I’ll have to seek out more of her work before I can say for sure. Kate Bingaman‘s more immediately fascinating credit card drawings, recalling Boggs’ drawings of cash, offer a model of loss that feel more earned (or spent). Meanwhile, Brent Hoff’s “Globes of Rememberance,” puts Katrina, the WTC, and the Armenian genocide into snow globes. The resulting video is crass, memorable, and hamfisted.

Most in the show lost loved ones. There are photos of coffin vaults and press clippings of death. And ritual: Chris Barr evokes his brother’s suicide in a performance video. He stands still for 17 minutes, then falls; likewise, a suicide occurs in that time span. The viewer may select any of three months’ worth of these action, a DVD for each day’s performance. The empty videos gain from the physical presence of all those DVDs. Others works, like straight paintings of loved ones, I can’t remember with much clarity.

Emily Momohara’s images, however, should stay with me. Simple in technique, she photographs herself in funeral homes, but replaces her shadow with that of dead family. Or stand-ins– one’s a pineapple, one a Chinese dragon.

I write often about comics, so I must note Paul Hornschemeier‘s presence. He has four archival prints of pages from his comic Mother, Come Home. I find the book affecting, but the pages hanging in the gallery dull. Comics need a reader to perform them, a different act than taking in gallery art, both mentally and bodily. Add to it that his art seems wholly computer-drawn, so the print differs little from the book. It’s also overwhelmed by George Ferrandi’s site-specific installation of cartooning, paintbrushes, and junk, silently dominating their shared corridor.

Added bonus: the architectural scar on stolid Cincinnati that is UC’s campus, with whacked-out buildings by Gehry, Eisenman, and Morphosis. And Carol Tyler‘s teaching there. Who knew?

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