September 4 - October 2, 2020
“Blind Alley projects is pleased to announce Betsy Coulter: (A Fridge-Sized Asteroid is Heading Toward Earth) One Day Before The Election
We found Betsy Coulter and her enticingly strange art on Instagram and it was love at first sight. This is the type of discovery and engagement we hoped for when we first conceived of Blind Alley and this exhibition is a true manifestation of our objective to show art that introduces new and perhaps puzzling ideas into an already rich discourse. Within the context of our small, neighborhood embedded space with street access, (A Fridge-Sized Asteroid is Heading Toward Earth) One Day Before The Election delivers the same visual and conceptual punch to which we were drawn with Betsy Coulter’s Instagram posts.
Posting to Instagram has been a way for me to make sense of, and activate, all the things in my day- to-day life that surround and overwhelm me.
Working out of her house, Betsy Coulter uses domestic objects, and images from media that come to her through the computer. She gravitates towards the most basic and disposable objects of daily life, objects that document our passage and litter our environment, objects which are designed to serve our needs, and then fade into the background. Coulter sees online news images operating in a similar way, as fleeting objects that reinforce belief systems. Juxtaposing makeshift constructions with the computer screen, found images, and/or her own body, Coulter uses objects to look through, as passageways or as frames to change our assumptions and perception of what we encounter in her work. She employs a range of simple maneuvers that she refers to as “weak strategies.” In keeping with her practice, the artworks in this exhibition collectively demonstrate a range of “weak strategies” ⎯ stacking, pulling down, throwing back. Coulter states that her “actions are quick and deliberate. … always looking for maximum impact with as little involvement as possible, which allows the objects to interrelate and escape their individual scripts.” My playful acts of shaking up, and travelling beyond, give me hope.
Not wanting to be a passive recipient of cultural products and driven by an urgency to make sense of an increasingly complex world ⎯ a world approaching ecological catastrophe, Coulter writes, “My work explores what it feels like to wake up to this moment.” She goes on to explain, “My goal is to disrupt representations of power, scientific certainty, and technological mastery.” Speaking to her defense mechanisms and ultimately her approach to the art, Coulter explains, “I balance my frustration and anger with a sense of trickery and play. I want to throw things back at authoritative systems to disrupt their representations. I search the house to find the perfect thing to jam the message. … I think of how I relate to objects as a possible way forward in a time of ecological crisis. For me, hope resides in tuning to objects, and allowing them to lead us in new creative directions.” It aligns with how I am trying to grapple with something that can’t be seen (ideology) while speaking of events that are of an ungraspable scale. The title, (A Fridge-Sized Asteroid is Heading Toward Earth) One Day Before The Election is taken from a recent news headline from which Coulter created an installation that points to something that has not happened, that isn’t there. Illuminating the outcome of her intentions, Coulter offers, “embodied here are the values, threat, and promise of the state apparatus: the Mars rover launch and tear gas used against protestors during a Portland protest.” She goes on to identify toilet paper tubes as “detritus and craft remnants,” that “also echo recent moments of commodity shortages and the larger supply chains that speak to human behavior and unseen systems.”
Betsy Coulter was born in London, Ontario, Canada and currently lives in Florence, Massachusetts. She received her BFA from The University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario and her MFA from the University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario, Canada. Between 2000–2002, Betsy was in the Core Residency Program, Glassell School of Art, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Texas.”
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