Home > Feature > Jeff Gibbons’ ‘Clown Ambulance’ at Conduit Gallery

Jeff Gibbons’ ‘Clown Ambulance’ at Conduit Gallery

Bonsho 2016, Japanese bell with various meaningful ropes

Bonsho, 2016, Japanese bell with various meaningful ropes

Installation view

Installation view

what are (some) boys made of?

a bell,
a bowl,
a beethoven

with a bulbous nose;

a ‘brella, some bottles;

a bantam; a bag.

a blank painting.

I Shouldn’t Have Listened To That Gypsy #1 2016, air-dry clay & latex

I Shouldn’t Have Listened To That Gypsy #1, 2016, air-dry clay & latex

In the bowl—of “air-dry clay”—a latex lining. Protection from transmission?

Installation view

Installation view

Roundness resonating (though never quite perfectly); Gibbons makes the circle in Conduit’s floor bound up.

Even the rubber chicken re-cycles, never getting to the other dam’ side. (But his head- and eye-shades grace Beethoven’s bust.)

Chichen 2015, rubber chicken, steel wire & thread

Chichen, 2015, rubber chicken, steel wire & thread

Biqui 2016, umbrella & paint

Biqui, 2016, umbrella & paint

Letters that can spell I’ll love you too or Loot or maybe some other things spiral on a flimsy shield from wet elements, rounding into dark like words on a vinyl disk, or memories into a lens or an I, or (maybe) something into a toilet.

Little Milk (A Movie) 2016, air-dry clay, paint, trapped breath & synthetic fiber

Little Milk (A Movie), 2016, air-dry clay, paint, trapped breath & synthetic fiber

Breath trapped in clay urns, like Keats’ (“thou still unravished . . . foster child of silence”, etc.): no room for Beethoven’s ashes or solider substance, but the movie lasts almost half a 24; or is it just 11:35 min.?

Little Milk (A Movie) [detail]

Little Milk (A Movie [detail]

I’m also in mind of Breughel’s Beggars.

For Hugging 2016, punching bag, pants, shoes, belt & chain

For Hugging, 2016, punching bag, pants, shoes, belt & chain

The punching bag dresses a lot like Gibbons. Belt me.

Ibbo 2016, painting that blew into studio parking lot during a thunder storm

Ibbo, 2016, painting that blew into studio parking lot during a thunder storm

Clown Ambulance has no working siren, just an old bell probably too small for much of a temple, hung with at least three “meaningful” strings (Milton taught me, meaning resides in relatedness); and the jokes won’t make you laugh. A lot of us, maybe all in our ways, are trying to save ourselves or each other. The rescue always seems too little too late; but Gibbons props up the dead patient anyway, and makes it sing like only a deaf clown-beethoven-that-can’t-smell-the-incense-sticking-out-of-its-own-head could.

Clown Ambulance [detail] 2016, plaster bust, incense, clown nose, plinth & paint

Clown Ambulance [detail], 2016, plaster bust, incense, clown nose, plinth & paint

img_4831-beet-profile

Gibbons’ work has been known to make people cry, and I’m feeling that as I write; but I think it’s in a very, very good way.

The exhibition also includes a 20-minute compilation of videos that, taken together, seemed profound and work wonderfully with the rest of the show.

If you haven’t already seen it, go, before it and the year close.

 

At Conduit Gallery in Dallas through Dec. 31. Images courtesy the artist and Conduit Gallery. 

also by Carolyn Sortor
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