MAIN SPACE EXHIBITION
JULY 10 – AUGUST 7, 1998
RECEPTION: FRIDAY, JULY 7, 1998 AT 8 PM
LOCATION – STRIDE GALLERY
722, 11 AVE S.W, CALGARY, ALBERTA
Machyderm is concerned with creating images about the people, places, and messages they must live with in their lives. They consider themselves story-tellers. They have three lighted rooms/installation pieces in which they explore these issues. The first, “Badly Decomposed: The Making of IT…!” is an interactive piece that is concerned with the type of reality that televisions projects, and the rituals of watching it. Their second “room” is called “Meet Jenna: Downtown”. Wilson and McNamara focus on the construction and destruction of character as it is exposed through the video camera and urban society. The latest piece, GOING AWAY PART(L)Y: THE SECRET ROOM refers to the manufacture of portable places, death, and placelessness. Voyeurism and constructed realities are common themes throughout their work.
Machyderm has been in existence since 1991. It consists of Ontario artists Dermot Wilson and Christopher McNamara. They are both involved in performance, installation, and video production. Together they construct rooms with video, audio, projections, found objects, and computer generated images.
GOING AWAY (BACKWARDS)… IN REVERSE
Bridgeport, 1980.* Me and Yolanda (a woman I plucked from a Tom Robbins’ novel) were getting married…A gauze dress, soapstone wedding kind of affair. Yolanda’s mother, Mary helped plan the event. Her linen closet housed a private stockpile of Winstons (no linens)… The quantity of her stash always determined the quantity of her mood. I helped her keep smiling… would have made a good son-in-law.
Mary’s Fingernails. Literally grew over and around the top of each of her fingers… always painted blood-red. Ten short, puffy, white fingers capped with ten little red, shiny helmets. They drummed a steady beat on the kitchen table.
Mary’s Teeth… The freedom of not bothering with them. Sometimes (toothless) when she pulled hard on a Winston, I thought her whole face might implode, and be sucked down her throat… This hollow, distant cry. The ten red helmets all frantically gesturing in the air… What would we tell them at emergency? Fish Heads. Mary really wanted to make crab cakes for the wedding… Kneading the fishy ingredients together with THOSE fingers… Everything smelling like low tide…
Swag. My fondest memory of Yolanda was living other people’s lives with her in the many domestic vignettes at Wayside Furniture Showroom in Milford, Connecticut… A plastic turkey roasting in an oven, a cardboard television on a credenza. The narcotic smell of newness… All colonial and swag.
A Sock. I found another man’s sock in Yolanda’s apartment and realized that I was an involuntary participant in a sexual bake-off. I cancelled the furniture order and inflated the tires on my bicycle… Needed some time away… I flew to the west coast and rode across the United States.
Furniture. At the airport, going away…Patti (my new girlfriend), Laura** (my first girlfriend), my bicycle and a receipt for a cancelled furniture order.
Baklava. In San Francisco, I stayed with Neil and Kathy. If I ever needed a Santa Claus, it would be Neil. Kathy was Greek. Her grandmother baked home-made Baklava. Neil and Kathy loved many things but not Baklava. I was thankful that my cycling shorts had an elastic waist.
Inside Out. I went ways backwards… In reverse. From San Francisco to Connecticut, I was constantly moving closer to whatever it was that I had left behind (and now was positioned in front of me). An imploded exodus… I thought about the little, red helmets, the linen closet and Mary (toothless) pulling on a Winston.
Weekend Warrior. Along the ride, I asked a guy for directions. “I don’t know, I’m just a tourist.” I thought about his apparent state of dis-ease and imbalance, his motor home (a Weekend Warrior model)… and I wondered whose side he was on.
(Low.) Place to place and in between.
Place to place and in between.
Like now, right? In between.
The Gods of Nowhere. Going Away Part(l)y is a project(ion) that sticks to the bottom of you shoe and hangs at the back of your throat. Uncomfortable reminders of what it once meant to be human… Questions of identity profoundly processed through a complex equation of death, resurrection and rebirth. The inherent violence of severing a social bond. Eruption… Isolation… Longing.
You know. Ships in the night. That saying.
Yeah, right. I guess. We are. We’re ships.
In the night.
Placelessness. An erratic meditation on place (not as a construct, but as a specific, endangered site, a community). Placelessnes. Again, the narcotic smell of (perceived) newness. Difference. What kind of diferne if the barometer (associated with going away) is largely determined by the particular language a McDonald’s restaurant menu is written in? Scattering and gathering. Scattering and gathering. 20 miles to the next Rest Stop.
***Female … I was thinking how funny it would be if this was like the family here. Like us three…the family compact. And this is where we live and eat and sleep and this is what we do…all the time. (leans back.) Not like birds migrating, but just like caught in between, not having a northern home and a southern home and a migratory route, but…just like this all the time…
People. Poignantly moving between humor and pathos, ideas and possibilities spill over the proscenium safety of the project(ion) and are exhumed. Visceral artifacts.
You Are There. A post-pioneer sense of the nomadic. Neither here nor there. Home as an illusion…What you carry on your back, or, what fits in your head. A cardboard TV on a credenza. Domestic Vertigo. Scratch N’ Sniff trading cards… Chock Full O’ Nuts…A house of cards… Heaven in your pocket. “Just another cup of hot water, please.”
Low. Mistrust of personal history, A predetermined implant of collective experience…Determined by what” Life imitates People. Secret rooms and inner sanctums vaporize under the scrutiny of the Cathode Ray… Adapting, surviving add more longing (keep your head low, and filled with…).
Boys. You have an uncanny ability to cut right to the heart of what it means to be human. And now, you have choreographed a powerful homage to the futility of life… But, as always, resonating with a strong thread of hope.