Purposeful randomness

‘Experiments, Memory & Devices’ at BCC
By GREG COOK  |  February 17, 2010

ART_021910_Metzgar1 
OBSCURE Metzgar’s Investigations in Taiwan.

"How do I absorb all this beauty," Leslie Schomp writes in Diary (2010), an open cloth notebook resting on a wood stand. The lines of the "paper" are blue stitching that trail off the edge of the book to the floor. The embroidered stitching of the words also flows onto the ground, like an uncanny trail of gray hair.

Diary is one of her fabric-and-embroidery sculptures in the three-person show "Experiments, Memories & Devices" at Bristol Community College's Grimshaw-Gudewicz Art Gallery (777 Elsbree Street, Fall River, Massachusetts, through February 25). Schomp's Threading the I (2009) embroiders portraits of the same severe woman (a self-portrait?) onto two hoops mounted on wooden stands. They face each other. Threads from the eyes of one radiate out like threatening laser beams and reach to the other, connecting to the face's outlines.

Home/Body (2009) is a narrow, six-foot-tall muslin house. An embroidered heart padlock secures the front door. Schomp has embroidered a shovel on one side and a climbing vine on the back. Peek inside doors and windows and you find embroidered onto the partitions inside a bird, a monogrammed pillow, an empty picture frame, a chair, an empty mirror, a light bulb, and light switch. Schomp's embroidered drawings can be somewhat stiff and twee, but her best work resonates like poetry or the logic of dreams.

Also on view here is art by Christy Georg and Richard Metzgar. Georg makes curious devices like a scissors-like clamp, spoon-scraper things, or a large metal funnel connected at bottom to a hose attached to a pair of what look to be earphones. Her Triple Doser (2005) is a bowl with three small attached spoons. It sits atop a stand connected to a kneeler. The idea seems to be that three people could kneel down and drink fluid poured from the bowl into the connected spoons, as if receiving a sacrament. But beware: the bowl and spoons are made of toxic lead.

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INTRIGUING Georg’s Monitoring the Dunes Apparatuses.

Monitoring the Dunes Apparatuses (2003) includes a pair of crutches that stand on what seem to be speakers, and connect to a pair of headphones. Photos show Georg wearing the gear at the great dunes of White Sands National Monument in New Mexico and holding herself aloft on the crutches like an acrobat. She describes it as an "endurance performance" in which the artist is connected to the earth only by these stethoscopic crutch ears for as long as she can hold herself aloft. Georg impresses with her craftsmanship and her ability to invent creepy, mysterious objects that seem like artifacts from another era. Her stern air of sadomasochistic ritual can feel like pretentious affectation at times, but the goal — isolation of senses (taste, hearing) to generate a more powerful and elemental connection with the world — intrigues.

Metzgar's Pin Tung City Walk piece from Investigations in Taiwan (2006) shows the title at top, then a photo of a purple recycling bin decorated with flowers standing before a shack. In the middle is the text "Metzgarmk-587tseng," like a reference to some catalogue index. At bottom is a computer generated line drawing that might indicate the rough boundaries of overlapping locations. Or perhaps it's the loops of his walks. In the bottom corner, it reads "W / 1.0 block / 20 sec. / 20 shots/ 1) 7 sec. V / 2) 360° V."

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