S.H.E.D. Projects: House Show

by admin on August 9, 2012

The emergence of DIY exhibition spaces has begun to establish a viable alternative to the commercial gallery space, which until recently has held the majority of our culture’s access to fine artworks. The home on 15th street in West Oakland used for S.H.E.D. Projects’ House Show will become one of the pioneering exhibitions of this genre that create a significant turning point in how these new alternative spaces will begin to provide novel venues to view and experience art. 9 concurrent micro-exhibitions organized by 11 artists and curators make use of the entire house: from the basement to the attic and from the front fence perimeter to the backyard. Each of these micro-exhibitions features site-specific work that either responds directly to the house itself by using found materials, responds to the house’s history, or strategically frames the work within the domestic architecture.

Spaces tackled by artists Pete Nelson, Cybele Lyle and Zachary Royer Scholz, curated by Zoe Taleporos work as a whole to represent how the exhibition has achieved the monumental task to cohesively join the smaller, micro-exhibitions and give a significant response to the alternative space culture, and not be just another gallery placed within a house. Their works directly examine the fundamental architectual and spatial conditions of the three most important locations at the beginning, middle and end of the house. All their projects emphasize spatial transition, perambulations, and the house’s continual renovation according to the requirements of its inhabitants since its construction in 1890. Nelson’s negative imagery of the fence that surrounds the home front, and performance constructing his piece and demolishing the old fence on opening night distinguishes the physical barrier of public and private spheres. Lyle’s photography and projection engages with the main hallway and the front door, the stalwart icon of the home, and turns it into a permeable, shifting space and object. Each time any activity is performed in the space, the door is opened or closed, someone walks in or out, or into the other rooms, the work is activated and it begins to change. It acutely chronicles the hallway as a continual space filled with movement and transition. Royer Scholz’s installation in the backyard reassembles the overgrowth and discarded remnants of a 100+ year-old tree that had to be cut down. Both a literal and figurative excavation of the space, Royer Scholz’s beautiful pile with its dark browns, purples and blues from the wildflowers, accented by sunflowers in the distance is an engaging space alluding to a funeral pyre of sorts that laments the deconstruction of the space’s long history as a feral landscape by the only recent domestication.

Fair Trade, the micro-exhibition in the kitchen curated by Jonah Susskind is another grouping of well-executed works given the difficulty of aesthetically interpreting the space. Three seemingly disparate projects by artists Matthew Draving, Grant Lavalley, and Aaron Harbour and Jackie Im are uniquely tied together, commenting upon both the space it inhabits and the art world at large. A sound work of imitated birdsong near the window, a video piece that creates ambiguity in the lapse of time, and a well-rendered photograph almost confrontationally displayed in a large opened drawer have all been acquired by buying the artist groceries. This simple act, placed within the kitchen of the home and receipts of the act  humbly placed upon the refrigerator is a powerfully direct commentary upon value and need concerning acquiring art and the roles gallery owners, curators, and artists play within the business status quo of the gallery world.

Roxanne Crocker’s multiple cakes placed on the floor in the kitchen is also uniquely curated into the culinary space of the house by her clever use of an edible medium, but her works transcend far beyond this literal interpretation. Each one of the sugar sheet cakes is topped with benign and not so benign edible images. During the reception, the audience was invited to select a piece to enjoy. The result of the performance upon the works created multifarious artistic results. It revealed there were some images participants chose to literally and figuratively consume more than others, while also which particular pieces of the images were chosen. Consumers also recreated the works, cutting out shapes or rearranging the cakes into other sculptural works.

Whereas other “live-in galleries” have been interpreted as bringing the gallery space in to the house, as if it were a packaged product to take home, S.H.E.D. Projects’ House Show permeates the entire dwelling space of the home, making the artwork installations both within a familiar space that erases the intimidation commonly felt in white-walled commercial gallery spaces and concurrently rearranges the dynamics of this familiar space, making it a strange and wondrous place. Each work, whether intended or not deals directly with the definitions and roles of a lived-in space, almost a translation of the antique Salon– a site that in its day was the point place that converged the home with performance, art, and philosophical discussion. The house is occupied by its tenants during the show, and as they live within the space they will concurrently challenge both the artists intent and their role as “viewers” to asses the social and daily dynamic that surrounds contemporary art. Unlike the habitual, almost worn out ritual of the opening reception, and ancillary events that impel us to enter a gallery space, S.H.E.D. Projects’ House Show challenges viewers to think about how we live with art and its role in our everyday lives.


S.H.E.D. Project’s House Show will be on view through August 18th. See Facebook page for events and opening hours.