M’Kina Tapscott’s installation New Soil: Tessellations of Dark Matter is part of STACKS, a group show at Art League Houston curated by Robert Pruitt. Tapscott’s installation is refreshingly immersive and cohesive, so much so that this post can’t do it justice: it is meant to let you step in and be saturated. It’s a shame that it will only be up for such a brief time during the holidays, but it’s also kind of perfect. I arrived after a long day of teaching kids on sugar highs, and I can attest that if you’re ready to take off from the bustle and stress, then come into this temporary space womb. It’s a perfect reprieve.
As you enter the Art League, line drawings in black tape angle you toward the gallery. A pattern of reflected and reiterated triangles spills from the curtained-off reception and the hallway to the gallery’s shiny gray floor. Some remain flat two-dimensional triangles in this overall floor drawing. Some triangular sections are the bases for black 3D prisms that rise up a foot or so high.
A few sections are filled with STACKS debris. Tapscott compares these to beds of fresh soil in a map that can be endlessly tessellated.
A large, black, plastic pyramid juts out from one wall. It is punctured with tiny holes from which star-like light emits. It is also the source of sounds that saturate the room. These sounds are a curiously soothing mix of space sounds, womb sounds, and city sounds. Even before I knew this it managed to get under my skin in waves.
The sounds are simultaneously booming and calming, in a dissociating way. The room was dimly lit with red, green, and blue bulbs that created an otherworldly lightscape. It cast the debris in strange relief, so I had to squint to name individual items, but preferred to give up and enjoy the abstract compositions, textured reliefs, and shadows in between.
In another context, the pattern could have recalled hipster triangle doodles, but the attention to sound, light, and space elevates the experience.
New Soil’s cleanness and order is also a departure from the previous shows that highlights the value and momentum of STACKS’ consecutive, multi-vocal premise. It demonstrates how tactics can differ between an exhibition of remnants from actions you wish you had been there for, and an abstract sensory installation that makes you want to stay.
New Soil: Tessellations of Dark Matter
Art League Houston
December 21-22, 26-28
photos by Lillie Monstrum