Frames!

January 2, 2009

So a big part of the “new” version of this project will be wall-mounted.  I was initially very against this idea, but alas, sometimes compromises must be made.  The general idea behind the “new” non-hanging version of this project is to have a large conglomeration of tiles somewhere near the entrance to indicate a critical mass (but not hanging from the ceiling) and then additionally fill the gallery/theater with hand selected wall mounted pieces that people will be able to read and get intimate with.  They will be scattered guerrilla style throughout the gallery in underutilized bits of wall space like around water fountains, elevators, maybe even in bathrooms etc.  The Center for the Arts is filled with useless bits of space, especially walls around access doors to places that are inaccessible–in terms of adaptive reuse architecture, it’s sort of horrifically designed in that sense.  Anyways, the wall mounted pieces are intended to be “special”, beautiful, exquisite tiles with the content relating to its location in the gallery.  For example, a piece over a sink or water fountain might be related to water quality and human health standards of the site prior to or during remediation.  In some ways, I get to act as archaeologist on a whole other level–that of spatial archaeologist, drawing attention to and highlighting all the forgotten spaces in the building.  Unfortunately, I’ve realized that most of my content doesn’t fill this function very well.  It’s not really specific enough to relate to the types of underutilized spaces in the Center for the Arts, but I do think there are particularly relevant and interesting bits of information that will be nice to make use of.  The general idea is that upon entering the gallery, visitors are struck with this critical mass of tiles, and while it may be intriguing on some level, eventually they move on to the next thing as you usually do in a gallery or museum.  As they move through the rest of the building (3 floors in total), they view other pieces and forget about mine until they happen to run into one of these “special” hand selected pieces in an odd spot.  Maybe they engage with it, maybe not, but as they progress through the entire show, they keep popping up, reminding them of their context within the show, within the gallery and within the greater Arsenal and its history.  When they eventually make their way back to the entrance in order to leave the space, they are again confronted with the critical mass, but now it has new meaning.  Now that they’ve seen what some of the content is like, the mass indicates something about the  mass of history, the mass of toxins, the mass of data, etc.  Now you question what other secrets might be buried in that pile of “papers”.

As of right now, I have no idea what that “pile” of papers is actually going to look like.  Neat stacks?  Messy stacks?  Piles?  Spread fairly evenly?  Still in boxes?  Who knows… that might be a decision I make at the last possible second.  But I do know how the wall mounted pieces will work.  I’ve been touring thrift stores, dredging up as many old and used picture frames as I can find in order to convert them into framing elements for the “special” pieces.  The idea is to elevate the wall mounted tiles but still have them somewhat camouflaged with the gallery–they need to be somewhat subtle in order to be subversive, as if they snuck in and settled unannounced–maybe you pass by the first one because it blends in but they keep cropping up so eventually you have to pay attention.  I’m painting all of the frames white (again, playing the archaeologist and digging up these trashed frames and re-contextualizing them) to match the gallery walls and then mounting the tiles directly to the glass so that you actually see some of the “real” gallery wall through the frame in addition to the tile.

Here’s an example:

This seemed like an appropriate frame to explain this process given its content!

This seemed like an appropriate frame to explain this process given its content

Take the frame apart (usually this is easier said than done!) and thoroughly clean the frame and glass

Take the frame apart (usually this is easier said than done!) and thoroughly clean the frame and glass

This one had some ancient vinyl and paint on it so cleanup was a little more extensive than usual

This one had some ancient vinyl and paint on it so cleanup was a little more extensive than usual

And finally repainting and remounting the glass without any backing

And finally repainting and remounting the glass without any backing

It seemed important (and fun!) to document all the frames before I altered them.  I feel like it’s the least I can do since the art that once lived in these frames will most likely be trashed.  Right now it’s all sitting in my living room because I can’t bring myself to throw it away!  They at least deserve some props for giving their lives (some short, some long) to my whimsy so here’s the first batch of frames, pre-paint-job:

This was actually a Target piece so its probably not that old--just a little dinged up and therefore unacceptable to its previous owner

This was actually a Target piece so it's probably not that old--just a little dinged up and therefore unacceptable to its previous owner

Another Target piece, also probably not that old and seemingly undamaged!

Another Target piece, also probably not that old and seemingly undamaged!

There were lots of flowers...

There were lots of flowers...

this pair came from a thrift store in Blacksburg VA, both by the same artist, printed in Sweden, 1980

This pair (and the previous) came from a thrift store in Blacksburg VA, both by the same artist, printed in Sweden, 1980

And of course my favorite, the sleepy cat.

And of course my favorite, the sleepy cat.

To be Continued…

I’ll show the rest tomorrow along with a test tile mount.

And I have heat and hot water again!  Woohoo!

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