Instant Installation Invitational: iii Spring Meet
Text and photos by Keith Waits
Entire contents are copyright © 2013, Keith Waits. All rights reserved.
Visual Art might often be seen as a static enterprise in Louisville galleries: objet d’art, however compelling, hangs on a wall or sits on a pedestal, awaiting inspection and appraisal from jaded viewers. This initiative, birthed by Ezra Kellerman, invites us into an active, kinetic gallery dynamic in which we witness creativity in action.
Each one of eight artists contributes an element into the mix, and then they are tasked with making an installation with those ingredients in sixty minutes with a crowd watching. The individual artist works on his or her own to create from scratch with materials presented only moments before. The materials in this instance included one potato, a length of hemp rope, a ball of rust-brown yarn, a 4′ length of heavy cardboard tubing, a metal wheel rim, a section of tire, some 8″ x 11″ paper, and a small curio frame. At the end, viewers vote for their favorite work, and cash prizes are awarded.
This Spring Meet (a previous edition took place in November at the Kentucky School of Art) was hosted at Swanson Contemporary and included at least one competitor, David Metcalf, working in one of the window spaces that front onto Market Street. A crowd of several dozen people moved carefully through the space and watched from the street, observing the fast and sometimes fevered efforts, the tight circumstances enhancing the pace and the tension of the exercise. Some of the work took shape quickly, while others were slower to come to fruition; but all were insightful examinations of the creative process.
|Mike Ratterman installation.
The results were striking, with sculptor Mike Ratterman winning the top prize and Shohei Katayama and Sarah Lyon picking up runners-up recognition. Ratterman’s piece was an inspired suspended construction that was clean and simple, ingeniously rigging a mobile-like structure with the generous amount of yarn provided. At one point, the artist seemed unsure of how to incorporate the cardboard tube (all ingredients must be used), and its placement in halved sections at the top of his design seemed superfluous except to satisfy the rules of the contest.
|Sarah Lyon installation.
Sarah Lyon spent the better part of the hour forcefully deconstructing the materials past the point of recognition, so that it was only in the closing minutes that her design was fulfilled enough to understand. If one had not witnessed the process and known exactly what she had started with, it would have been a challenge to identify her source materials. The original configuration of the disparate elements were obliterated and a new identity imposed on them by the artist’s hand to create a unified purpose that no other artist involved matched.
|Shohei Katayama installation.
It was fascinating to witness interesting and dynamic work being willfully compromised by the demands of the exercise. To this viewer’s eyes, Mr. Ratterman was not alone in the challenge of coping with one or more elements that simply had no place in the concept born from the artist’s imagination and constructed under intense pressure, so that the primary challenge might be seen as how to subvert the individual items into a unified physical presence. On these terms, Ms. Lyon’s work was the most successful.
At the end, most of the participants seemed energized and happy to have been a part of this event, and the emphasis on process and action over marketable object can be seen as a provocative commentary on the complacency of the contemporary art scene.
|Artist David Metcalf at work.
Mike Ratterman – Grand Prize Winner $800
Sarah Lyon – 1st Runner Up $200
Shohei Katayama – 2nd Runner Up $200
Valerie Sullivan Fuchs
Thaniel Ion Lee
May 25, 2013
7 p.m. – 9:30 p.m.
638 E. Market Street
Louisville, KY 40202