Boston artist Andrew Mowbray climbs through the hatch at the back of a white diving bell in his new video “Bathyscape,” sits inside the small contraption, snips off locks of his wavy brown hair, and ties them onto hooks as fishing flies.
As I note in my review of his installation which closes tomorrow at Space Other, Mowbray has long been strong on technique, but in the past I’ve found his concepts to be clunky and simplistic. Here his formal chops (and Art Show Down prowess) are finally matched to intriguingly meaty symbols. Mowbray fills the gallery with mysterious sculptures – an Art Nouveau dream of a diving bell, bellows and framed fishing lures made from his own clipped hair – relics from the curious video performance.
The sculptures call to mind the boy in the bubble, laboratories, portapotties, space capsules, wombs. The white palette and plastic props say something about purity, innocence, virginity. Mowbray touches on gender roles (in his symbol system diving bell/womb probably equals female and fishing equals male), though I don’t quite know how to connect all the dots. In fact, the project’s success lays in not quite making sense, in sounding deep archetypes but leaving them mysteries for us to puzzle over.
Andrew Mowbray “Bathyscape,” Space Other, 63 Wareham St., Boston, May 18 to June 30, 2007.