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“Systems of Growth and Decay” at MASS Gallery

Jarrod Beck and Amanda Schoppel's Systems of Growth and Decay at MASS
presents two almost diametrically opposed visions of sensuality
by two almost diametrically opposed artists. It's a strange show
because of the incredible rift in the gallery and the work. Beck has
his side, and Schoppel hers. His is dark, moody, a carefully arranged
mess of crumbling elements, hers an almost clinically clean, mostly
white, and stark collection of lines, seeds and other organic elements.

deconstructed sling by Jarrod Beck
Beck's sublime sculptural works speak of the sensuality and erotic potential of decay in a way that reminds me of some lines from “Close To The Knives ” by David Wojnarowicz: “It was an architecture of a population anticipating impermanence or death. It was a vacuum turned inside out, prefab materials of housing resembling the dry husks of insects halfway through their molt.”
The association with Wojnarowicz and the seedy underside of eroticism is amplified by the giant deconstructed sling (NSFW!) in the back of the gallery, and the appearance halfway through the opening of a man in full leather harness. Apparently, someone (Beck denies it was him) posted an ad on Craigslist's M4M section asking “Leather Guys” to come “check out my big sling. Wear your leather gear… free beer and snacks.” I felt a little bad for the guy, getting all geared up expecting something completely different from what he saw: boys and girls eating delicious hummus dips and pita chips (homemade by Erin Curtis!).
drawings by Jarrod Beck

Also of note are the drawings Beck made for his side of the gallery. They are beautiful, wispy things, in which pieces of men in sexual rapture appear out of thin air. A friend mentioned "they look like what making out while high feels like."
amanda schoppel's seed works

Schoppel’s idea of sensuality looks a little like hacked IKEA. Every piece felt maybe one or two elements away from done. Whereas Beck's work is very “masculine” in its willful control of materials, Schoppel's is very “feminine,” providing a nurturing environment (moist cardboard, sponges, etc) for her seeds to become plants.
amanda schoppel's seed works

Perhaps the element of time involved in her work is part of my problem with it. Maybe when I see the final result I will change my mind about it, but I somehow doubt that adding some sprouts to her sponges somehow will make them meaningful to me. It feels almost Calvinist: negation of sensual pleasure as sexy atonement.

Schoppel's side of the gallery in the end is deeply forgettable, especially when all it takes is to turn your head to be immersed in Beck’s beautiful and richly layered total art.

a detail from Jarrod Beck's installation

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