Print the legend

By GREG COOK  |  September 28, 2006

Xander Marro’s Transmutation Transmission Tower is a psychedelic two-story edifice with zebra, lion, and cobra gargoyles on the upper corners and topped with spires that evoke Russian onion domes by way of Dr. Seuss. Three peepholes in the back wall reveal a lady doll sitting with a pair of swans, two frogs, and peacocks in a jeweled disco heaven. Around the other side, you part curtains to enter a dark, fabric-lined room. There are patches that tell you to “Make movies, see magic” and “Pull on the Ropes.” Tug the black cords and pots and cymbals high in the ceiling above clang joyously. It’s an oasis, a moment in a more beautiful, magical world.

As you make your way back into the hall, you pass Erin Rosenthal’s Hum An Hum Drums. A headless papier-mâché tree person cradles another tree person in its arms. A machine hidden inside a tower of papier-mâché roots projects jumpy footage of rapids and dirt up through circles of white fabric hung like clouds above. Put your ear close to the root ends and you hear drumming.

A white zombie crawls out of his rocket-ship coffin in Leif Goldberg’s Laws for the Interminable. Here Goldberg, who often chooses environmental themes, suggests the story of a guy being revived centuries after he’d been cryogenically frozen. He watches a crude cryptic animated orientation video as electronic sounds pulse.

Jungil Hong’s Supermarket Spirit Ship aka Ghost Host and the Possibility Seed is a tree creature with scales of recycled plastic shopping bags and aluminum cans lingering near a matching hanging globe like one of those mod paper globe lamps. If you stoop underneath, you’ll find inside a glass bulb filled with plants and insecty creatures made of doll parts. Her prints often mix drawing and collaged faces, birds and trees, to lovely mysterious effect. But the doll art stuff feels tacky.

As you head back toward Marro’s tower, you find Chippendale’s Home on the Run, a reference to his house-hopping, as he’s been repeatedly displaced by urban redevelopment over the past several years. The sculpture is a wooden house decorated with screen printed wallpaper that you enter by an open archway. Copies of his screenprinted and photocopied Ninja comics and a Marvel Daredevil comic lie in a corner. A SpongeBob lamp and doll sit on a shelf above. Tucked beside a window is an image of a running soldier with the slogan “9/11: 5 years of revenge war!”

A character in a poster proclaims, “We have a plan to replace the young population with a more agreeable, more homogenous one in 5 years’ time. We will develop your city 10 times as fast as it’s being done now.” A masked armored character responds, “Do it. Give him tax breaks, TIFS, spliffs, whatever he needs.” The house feels empty, hollow. It’s unclear whether this is Chippendale’s point or whether it’s just a false start.

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