Round Up was one of those disappointing shows that feel like the aftermath of a party. The gallery lights were dimmed; the floppy green tent that filled most of the space was empty but for a couple unplugged photographic lights.
A large video projected onto a dim corner pastes various artworld stand-ins against a still backdrop of Monument Valley. Text interspersed with the images tells a story of a generic menace threatening a small town. The grim, fear-mongering tone of the texts seem vaguely familiar- I suspect they're adapted from the utterances of President Bush. A posse is being formed, and each character expresses support or hesitation about the proposed necktie party.
Titling the tent "The Green Zone" explicitly links the hawkish posturing of the Wild West with the current war in Iraq, but doesn't go any further. The association of the Wild West with unthinking violence is hardly a revelation; "Cowboy" has become a synonym for someone who goes off half-cocked. Round Up's knee-jerk critique Iraq war policy is depressing; it appeals to the same uncritical prejudices (i.e. Iraq war= lynch mob) as the rhetoric that got us into this mess in the first place (i.e. Saddam=Al Quaeda).
As a dress-up party it might have been fun, but as political discourse, it's moronic. The people in the video clown it up in their cowboy suits, expressing extreme, stylized viewpoints in campy character-actor voices. Acting stupid for the camera is great fun, or even a welcome relief for pent up frustrations, but it's dull to watch the morning after.
also by Bill Davenport
- Lego My Art! - January 30th, 2016
- Archive: Painting on My Planet/The Top Ten Painters in Houston - January 1st, 2016
- Archive: Tire Iron 0: Cropduster: Hills Snyder/Chris Sauter - December 28th, 2015
- DMA Crane Flip Video - April 26th, 2015
- Helmreich New Dean of Fine Arts at TCU - April 25th, 2015