Mirror Mirror #2: Subtext Projects

by Margaret Meehan July 11, 2010
Subtext Projectsis an experimental curatorial cooperative based in Fort Worth that offers new approaches to contemporary art in an area of Texas that is sorely in need of more alternative venues than the usual spectrum of museums and commercial galleries. Its members include Alison Hearst, Leslie Murrell, Erin Starr White and Stephanie Ball Piwetz – all employed at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth. These young curators also write for publications such as Glasstire, Art Lies, Art Papers and …might be good. Leslie Murrell is also a new member of 500X Gallery, an artist collective in Dallas, and the first curator to be introduced into 500X as far as I know.All members of Subtext Projects work collectively to generate exhibitions, publications, film series, panel discussions, artist interviews, and lectures. Because they are not based in one location they explore alternative venues and collaborate with individuals and groups as part of their mission. Their latest offerings, “Wish You Were Here” and “3 Propositions and a Musical Scenario” are two excellent examples of their effect on the DFW art scene.

Justin Boyd

Justin Boyd installation, photo: Kevin Todora

“3 Propositions and a Musical Scenario” was a one-night exhibition organized by Noah Simblist (full disclosure: my husband) and Subtext Projects which took place this past March. Initially conceived as an after-party for Liam Gillick’s exhibition opening that same night at The Fort Worth Contemporary Arts, this event played on Gillick’s ideas about art as social practice. It emphasizes the ephemeral and performative aspects of contemporary art, rather than an exhibition of discrete art objects that are for sale.

Brad Tucker installation/performance, photo: Kevin Todora

Electronic music performance by Personal Victories featuring Richie Budd, photo: Kevin Todora

Richie Budd featuring Personal Victories storefront exterior, photo: Kevin Todora

Located at an artist studio complex housing 3 small storefront spaces it showcased one-person, site-specific installations by Justin Boyd , Brad Tucker and M which included video, sound, drawing and sculpture.  Jenn Gooch and Richie Budd featuring Personal Victories added the music with 2 separate and very distinct performances. All artists involved shared a history of engaging in both art and performance.  It was an incredibly alive and energized evening of art in Fort Worth that brought out about 200 people.

Jenn Gooch, photo Kevin Todora

“Wish You Were Here” opened last Saturday, running July 2 – August 2, 2010 and is curated by Subtext members Alison Hearst and Leslie Murrell at the Fort Worth Contemporary Arts. Artists include Vanessa Albury, Coexistent: Nina Barnett/Robyn Nesbitt, Gabriel Dawe, Lanie DeLay, Marita Fraser, Tetsuo Kogawa, Kris Pierce, Chris Sauter, Paul Slocum. and Jeremy Wood.

The press release states that “in this digital age, physical distance is no longer the barrier to communication, research, and collaboration that it once was.” Technology has altered what it means to be present by transcending physical distance with methods such as e-mail, text messaging, and social networking sites. With the decline of one-on-one interactions and the reinterpretation of privacy we are also changing the definition of intimacy in an increasingly virtual world. This show looks at the fact that as our “real-life connections continue to taper, artists are increasingly interested in the growing gap between humans and their immediate, everyday surroundings. Distance is becoming, more than ever, a motivator, medium and subject of artworks”.

Wish You Were Here opening with Lanie Delay

Chris Sauter ‘s “The Whole World”, includes a microscope and a telescope and the wall that separates them. These tools for focussing in on both micro and macro worlds – otherwise invisible to the naked eye – are made from the actual drywall that separates them. As a result the gallery wall becomes a universe of apertures not unlike the starry constellations that we might imagine seeing through the lens of a telescope or the conglomeration of microorganisms that we might see through a microscope.

Chris Sauter, The Whole World

Chris Sauter-The Whole World- detail

“In 50 Works I Have Never Seen”, Marita Fraser reproduces, in slide format, images taken from art catalogues showing works that existed in temporary form or rarely seen archives. Like “The Whole World” this slide show performs the desire that exists through distance. This distance is doubled because the slides are pictures of photographs in books of artworks. The now antiquated technology of slides and the analog form of black and white reproductions in books creates a nostalgic and romantic image of not only the objects but of the medium of their display. This romance is about the materiality of display, evident in the whirring and clicking of the projector and the tangible feel and smell of the books that deliver the hidden artworks that Fraser covets.

Marita Fraser, 50 Works I Have Never Seen

Nina Barnett and Robyn Nesbitt ‘s, “Warcry” is about a series of opposites. Two back to back projectors in the center of a room display videos on opposite walls. Both are images of South African school children performing traditional war cries. On one side are boys dressed in red and on the other are girls dressed in blue. This gender split, highlighted by color transcends the racial split that we might associate with post-Appartheid South Africa. It’s interesting to see these proper school kids in uniform jumping up and down in a tribal ritual as well as see the gender split of that display. The boys are serious and generally more aggressive while the girls look giddy and more in the spirit of a school pep rally. There is a distance between the 2 schools, the 2 genders and ultimately the 2 histories of that nation.

Nina Barnett and Robyn Nesbitt, Warcry, video installation, 2008

And so concludes my second edition of Mirror Mirror which is dedicated to all the multitasking, multitalented, and multimedia artists who deserve a little shout out for their various incarnations.  To read and see more about Subtext Projects and the mirror livesthey lead visit SubtextProjects.org.Please note that the gallery hours for the current exhibition at The Fort Worth Contemporary Arts are only Saturdays, 1 – 3 pm.

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