Seven artists push the limits at the 2010 Nohl Fellowship Exhibition
The Mary L. Nohl Fund provides unrestricted funds for artists to complete works in progress, or to start new projects. These fellowships are awarded once a year to artists in two distinct categories—emerging artists and established artists—and every autumn the work of the previous year’s fellows is shown together in one show. At present, the seven 2010 Nohl fellows are being presented at the Inova Gallery on Prospect and Kenilworth with the resulting artworks.
Walking by the building, you may have noticed that the windows of the Inova space always look as if it’s rained, regardless of whether or not it has. The window display of streaks and drops is the work of Ashley Morgan, whose work evokes the romance of decay and the thin line between interior and exterior space. Inside the gallery, Morgan also constructed two leaded glass window boxes that have been mounted high on a wall, begging to be peeked through.
Also working with the line between types of space is Paul Druecke, who used the fellowship to host an open party on an unused triangular slab of concrete. Druecke used the performance of social interaction, as well as the triangular interplay between public, private, and social space to explore the idea of hospitality.
Chris James Thompson is a documentary filmmaker whose work for the Nohl Fund results in a non-traditional documentary about Jeffrey Dahmer. Titled Jeff, the work uses interviews with those who came in contact with Dahmer as well as acted and animated scenes in an attempt to tell not necessarily the courtroom truth of Dahmer, but the emotional truth of both his crimes and his life.
Also working in the realm of film, Brent Coughenour has made a work he describes as “My Big Fat Avant Garde Film.”
In Search of Lost Time pieces together found footage (of the television show “LOST”) and adds the swellingly dramatic horns scored by Hans Zimmer for the series. Coughenour manages to put in stark relief the ridiculousness of our entertainment media. The multimedia installation uses close-up shots of faces in emotive states, communicating with naught by eye movements and ticks of the muscles. These short shots have been looped together to play continuously on four gigantic screens arranged in a square, while the music that is alternately thrilling and ominous booms throughout the room.
Dynerman has created a walk-through installation piece called Inventory, replete with body parts, lighting effects, murals and music. You step inside the vaguely disturbing surreal world that Dynerman has created and wander around in it, much like stepping into someone else’s subconscious. The experience you have will depend on what you choose to look at and how long you choose to stay.
Sarah Buccheri, the seventh 2010 Nohl fellow, has several film and digital works. The major one she calls I(mpractical) Cal(endar), using old film snippets running through projectors that play in constant loops in disparate locations. Buccheri invites the user of the “calendar” to experience time when it is all simultaneous and infinitely malleable, where you can stay in one thing or repeat it or move on to the next at will.
This is art that is challenging. One might be tempted to call the works of the Nohl Fellowship grants “too smart,” but that would be unfairly dismissive and also discouraging. This is art that makes you think, yes, but the point isn’t necessarily to “get” exactly what the artist thinks they are getting across. Rather, the point is the thinking.
Art, as Druecke elegantly pointed out in his performance piece, is a conversation between people. It is as much an exchange between artist and viewer as it is the pontification of an artist. For that reason alone, you should see this show. Have a conversation with an artist, about whatever your mind decides to. It is worth the effort.
The 2010 Greater Milwaukee Foundation Mary L. Nohl Fellowship Exhibition will be at Inova Kenilworth (2155 N. Prospect Avenue) Gallery now through Dec. 4. The space is open Wednesdays, Fridays through Sundays from noon to 5 p.m., and on Thursdays from noon to 8 p.m. Admission is free. The artists separately and together have several “Ancillary Events” happening through the end of November including talks and screenings. Visit the Inova’s Nohl page for details and contact information.