Tuesday, May 12, 2009

"Inappropriate Covers" at Brown

From my review of "Inappropriate Covers" at Brown:
One way to keep dry, academic art theorizing from getting too, well, dry and academic is to inject some rock and roll. So it's a relief that "Inappropriate Covers" at Brown University's Bell Gallery, the 11-artist exhibit about "appropriation, reconfiguration, and erasure" as ways of unlocking hidden meaning, includes smashed guitars and goofball album cover mash-ups.

The show was put together by Brown grad students — conceived by Braxton Soderman and Cynthia Lugo and curated by Soderman and Justin Katko. The bad news is that the team's wall labels and catalogue read like a parody of grad-school speak. A sample: "Brian Dettmer's surgical interventions into the book expose topographies of hypertextual juxtaposition, retrieving singular reliefs from a vast array of combinations latent within any one volume."

The good news is that the show includes Dettmer's amazingly altered books. "Wonderland of Knowledge" (2008) is two stacks of vintage children's encyclopedias cut up, but still holding their shape, to reveal black-and-white illustrations (Egyptian sculpture, zebra, tires, eye, butterfly, buildings, elephant) like strata uncovered by an excavation of dreams.
Read the rest here.

"Inappropriate Covers," Brown University's Bell Gallery, 64 College Street, Providence, through May 29, 2009.

Pictured from top to bottom: Brian Dettmer, "Wonderland of Knowledge," 2008. Altered vintage Children’s Encyclopedia Set. Courtesy of Kinz + Tillou Fine Art; L. Amelia Raley, "Marrying you was my 9-11," from the series "I should have never ever ever did those things," 2007. Vintage handkerchief with embroidery phrases spoken by guests of a popular daytime psychiatric television show, 12” x 12”. Lent by the artist; Kelly Heaton, detail of "Live Pelt — Portrait of the Fashionista," 2003. Digital c-print, 25” x 25”. Courtesy of the artist and Ronald Feldman Fine Arts, New York. Photo: Tom LeGoff; and John Oswald, "Plunderphonics 69/96," 2001. Cover art, 12” x 12”. Courtesy of the artist and Edward Day Gallery, Toronto.


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