PRIVATE COLLECTION, now on display at Studio DTFU in Dallas was born out of a correspondence through the mail between Brooklyn-based artist Travis Iurato and DTFU Co-directors Justin Hunter Allen and Lucy Kirkman. There are only four works in PRIVATE COLLECTION and each one is a lively communicator.
The devil in Devil in the Details arrives first to celebrate the corruption of a pattern. The gallery’s acronym on the address line of the envelope has been obliterated by whiteout and rebuilt using a different letter order. The gallery’s full name is Don’t Fuck This Up. Its official acronym is DTFU. (Allen and Kirkman rearranged the letters for their own private reasons.) Iurato reinstates the acronym as DFTU. Who’s to say which is correct? The devil seems brightly pleased to be dominating even this minor bit of chaos. His arrival in the gallery through a mail slot prompts an irresistible temptation to consider the devil’s other visits in history.
Iurato’s long, pointy, very funny picture has its origins in the Middle Ages. By the 14th century the devil had become, for some, a figure of fun. And yet, monist religions, such as Christianity and Judaism, have an tough time treating him in ontological terms. If God is the prime force, who’s the devil?
The grand hierarchy of meaning that religion once structured in Western thought doesn’t matter to us much today. The devil is a benign icon of popular culture. Iurato explores the elemental meanings of images such as the devil, the cross, and the American flag at the present moment.
Iurato delights in the application, re-routing, and disruption of patterns. The appearance of a devil on a common envelope that moves across the country by conveyor, interstate, and human hand, given access by an emblem, a stamp, is an inspired and unique way to think about a traditional religious image.
The American flag in the picture God Bless America reminds viewers of an irony: the greater the social space—in this case, the reaches of the USA—the more room there is in it for illusions to flourish. The red mark in the lower left corner of the star field could be commentary— a drop of blood, perhaps. Or maybe an official seal or stamp. It could be a hole in the fabric or some kind of portal. The mark bedevils the order of the stars, crowds them a little. Maybe even obliterates one of them. The slogan “God Bless America” is printed over the flag, occupying a space between the flag and the viewer, creating an alignment of individual, slogan, and emblem.
The work in this show was not named by the artist but by DTFU’s directors, who assigned the pieces’ names based on the images and text they saw. The collage titled Cross got its name and shape by accident. The envelope that arrived at DTFU shows dotted lines and, in all caps, letters in blue marker where the receiver ought to “SLICE” to get it open. Allen, knowing there was art inside, showed caution and erred. But the result of the error embodies the spirit of the exhibit. Kirkman and Allen live in a back segment of the gallery, which doubles as their studio. They brought their bed in from the living space into the gallery space and hung Cross above it, completing a comfortable domestic scene.
PRIVATE COLLECTION has the feel of a visit to the curators at home. As Kirkman explains in the catalog, “We want to create an imagined ideal scenario of living with artwork in our private lives; an imagined living situation completely structured around viewing artwork.” Kirkman and Allen have taken Iurato’s intelligent, playful correspondence and created an intimate exhibit—a reminder that delight, too, lives in the details.PRIVATE COLLECTION will be on display through June 29, 2013 at Studio DTFU, located at 842 First Avenue, Dallas.