Allison Lacher & Jeff Robinson: Subdivision
February 21 – April 2, 2017
With its seven framed-out wooden façades, Allison Lacher and Jeff Robinson’s Subdivision transforms two galleries into a faux neighborhood where, on a weekly basis, additional artists are invited to manipulate one of the home-like structures in any manner of their choosing. Glossy white sheets of acrylic are attached to the face of every façade, each bearing its own vinyl decal depicting a common household object such as a vent, light switch, or power outlet. The installation immerses visitors in a landscape that evokes a recession-stricken, partially developed subdivision that is strangely populated by utilitarian-looking, Mondrian-like sculptures surrounded by decals of picket fences.
Subdivision will continually evolve during its six-week duration as the artists selected by Lacher and Robinson incrementally build upon, alter, or reinvent one of the aforementioned sculptures “causing,” according to Robinson and Lacher, “the exhibition to develop in ways not entirely within anyone’s control.” As people gather for the exhibition’s opening on Tuesday, February 21, at 5pm, Andy Roche and Selina Trepp will be the first participating artists to respond to their assigned structure. Following suit on successive Fridays, artists Amanda Bowles and Erin Hayden, Alejandro T. Acierto, Thad Kellstadt, and collaborative duo Melissa Oresky and Zak Boerger, will “perform” their work with a free public event in the gallery. In the last week of the exhibition, the “subdivision” will have changed from a conglomeration of similar architectural forms to a mash-up of different aesthetics, styles, practices, materials, and tastes—from a series of houses to a community of neighbors.
Throughout this collaborative exhibition, Lacher and Robinson’s roles will have transformed from traditional artists to artist-curators, or from material-manipulators to exhibition-makers. This hybrid role offers creative freedoms not afforded to a “professional” curator, from disregarding clarity in favor of experimentation, to destabilizing conventional roles and critiquing institutions—sometimes at the very institutions in which they are creating. The artist-curator freely moves between labels, uninhibited by expectations other than producing the unexpected. Everything the artist-curator does can be deemed as a work of art, from materials and coordination to another artist’s artwork. For Lacher and Robinson, the exhibition itself is the true medium.
Allison Lacher and Jeff Robinson began their collaboration in 2015 with the exhibition A Kitchen Without a Knife is Not a Kitchen at Kitchen Space gallery in Chicago. For the next year-and-a half the duo continued to produce collaborative exhibitions at Museum Blue, St. Louis; Roman Susan, Chicago; Outhaus, Champaign, Illinois; and The Ski Club, Milwaukee. Lacher and Robinson are Co-Directors of DEMO Project, an artist-run contemporary art gallery in Springfield, Illinois. Individually, Lacher has exhibited nationally at venues such as E.TAY Gallery, New York; The Luminary, St. Louis; CAUC Contemporary Art, Salt Lake City, Utah; and Illinois State Museum, Chicago and Springfield. She received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Edinboro University, Edinboro, Pennsylvania, and a Master of Fine Arts in Sculpture from Indiana University, Bloomington. Along with a rigorous independent curatorial practice, Lacher is the Gallery Manager at the Visual Arts Gallery of University of Illinois at Springfield. Robinson’s work has been exhibited at the Chicago Industrial Arts and Design Center, Chicago; Northern Illinois University Art Museum, DeKalb, Illinois; (SCENE) Metrospace, East Lansing, Michigan; and University Galleries of Illinois State University, Normal, among others. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from University of Illinois at Springfield, and a Master of Fine Arts in Painting from Illinois State University. He works at the University of Illinois at Springfield as an Instructor of Art and as the Director of the Visual Arts Gallery.
Wednesday, March 8
Andy Roche and Selina Trepp
February 21 at 5pm
Hanging from the wooden form, Andy Roche’s plastic tarp has a combination of airbrush painting and vinyl photo stickers that depicts bay windows where a gust of wind is blowing a stack of papers around the house and out the opposite window. Inside the form and among the turmoil of papers representing an actual novel he is working on, Roche will host a surprise performance for the opening of the exhibition.
Using home-made balls made from her studio scraps, Selina Trepp’s Neighbors invites all gallery attendees to join her in kicking and playing with the one-of-a-kind plastic-wrapped spheres. Inspired by instances of meeting new people from retrieving her children’s assortment of balls from neighbor’s yards, Trepp uses her spherical sculptures to promote accidental introductions.
Amanda Bowles and Erin Hayden
March 3 at 7pm
Amanda Bowles’ site-specific installation includes a custom wall painting, blinking sculptures, and, most importantly, a wall-hung electronic tablet. During the scheduled gallery opening, Bowles will “inhabit” the tablet via Facetime, performing as a “live photo” portrait. The structure itself will be modified by the addition of a mirror that will aid in extending and contracting perceived space between the performer and the viewer.
Erin Hayden will present Pretty Feelings, a performance event where poetry will be read aloud while Hayden interacts with willing participants, painting their nails and toes as well as her own. Her structure in Subdivision will act as a backdrop for this event—a home covered in images of sparkling toes. An accompanying video component reveals friendships with attitudes and diaristic texts.
Alejandro T. Acierto
March 10 at 7pm
Alejandro T. Acierto will activate the space through an experimental participatory project that considers the nature of political organizing in the era of Web 2.0. Using a real-time social media monitoring program as a backdrop to activate a set of megaphones within the installation, Acierto engages the structure as an open framework that student organizations and activists can inhabit. After a preliminary solo performance for megaphones and voice, the structure will offer various communities a temporary site to return to, work in, strategize, and recoup for the rest of the exhibition. Using open source technologies, Return, refresh, sustain attempts to embody and present a framework that enables collaborative interactions between organizers, communities, and the public.
March 24 at 7pm
Thad Kellstadt will present Hiraeth, an installation exploring how we encapsulate ideas and feelings of “home” into a given location, time, and space. The Welsh word “Hiraeth” is used to describe yearning and nostalgia for a particular past which we may or may not have experienced. Using the provided structure as an anchor, Kellstadt aims to create an esoteric mapping of the factual and fabled ideas and feelings of what he considers to be “home”.
Melissa Oresky & Zak Boerger
March 31 at 7pm
Beginning Saturday, March 25, Melissa Oresky will hold “Collage on Demand” events, a participatory process where she responds to requests for artwork from gallery visitors. At the end of this six-day period, the collages she has made-to-order will have gradually grown to cover the structure she and musician collaborator Zak Boerger will “inhabit.” Additionally, she and Boerger will utilize the structure as a site for related video and sound work, developed along the theme of the “domestic.” For the March 31 event, Boerger will also perform a solo set.
At the close of the exhibit, all “Collage on Demand” pieces will be given to the gallery visitors who “commissioned” them. Any donations in exchange for collages will be directed to human rights, healthcare, and environmental organizations.