Gapers Block has ceased publication.

Gapers Block published from April 22, 2003 to Jan. 1, 2016. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
 Thank you for your readership and contributions. 


Tuesday, December 7

Gapers Block

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The current exhibits on the 2nd floor of the MCA are some of the more compelling that I've seen in awhile. While the two exhibits (Skin Tight and Peterman) deal with apparently very different materials and subjects, I found the theme that united them - fear - to be very powerful.

The exhibitions couldn't be more different in how they are staged or in the materials used. Skin Tight, a show that examines the relationship of the body as art as well as asking how much our everday clothing should be considered art, offers a haunting experience for the visitor. The first piece, a series of clothes made from tough, drab fabric, are drapped on humanoid shapes and hanging from the ceiling. This eerie effect is accented by the other pieces - the cloven-foot shoes or the body-as-canvas video series. Peterman's exhibit was quite a contrast to Skin Tight. Whereas Skin Tight looked carefully at how the body and art interact, Dan Peterman examines the traces humans leave behind in their environment as the starting point for his pieces. What was so refreshing about this exhibit was its affront to the senses: instead of pieces that one looks at and then moves on, this is art that you can touch, smell, and hear. The odd combination of crisp sound and earthy scents in greenhouse or the fresh apples next to the smashed aluminum "kiosk" allow a viscercal connection to the artist's work - quite an achievement compared to so many other purely visual exhibitions. What surprised me the most however, was the complex relationship between the two. Situated across the hall from one another, the contrasts are easy to spot: Skin Tight works with the human as the subject, while in Peterman's work humans are hinted at but never explicitly seen; only their traces are examined. The force uniting the two pieces, the one you'll never read in the description, is fear. Both exhibits dwell on fear: the power of fashion to invoke it (cloven-hoofed shoes, KKK and infidah style clothing) and the fate of our planet from the mess humans leave behind. As I walked out into the sunshine, I was left with an eerie feeling. I was slightly scared, actually. Ultimately, the art had power over me, and I loved it. I can't wait to head back.

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