Selfie at Guest Spot @ the Reinstitute
through July 13
Despite its promotional materials, Selfie, the new show at Guest Spot through July 13, graciously has nothing to do with the pictures people always take of themselves with cellphones. In fact, it is one of the few shows this year that has nothing to do with the internet. Instead the title refers to something more like the actual self-whatever that is these days.
Gallery owner Rod Malin invited everyone who has shown at the Guest Spot and a couple people who had curated shows there to contribute a work, providing only the title and the context of the show (so each artist effectively curated him- or herself). But the artists all knew that they would not be coming home with the piece they brought: Each would choose someone else's work to take home. And when one's turn came about, you could "steal" a work already chosen by another artist. A work could only be stolen twice before it was out of commission.
According to Malin, the setup-sort of like picking teams in middle school-created quite a bit of anxiety at the opening: Will my piece get picked? "We sold a lot of beer," Malin says. "And I gave a lot away to people who looked nervous."
Lesser Gonzalez tried to subvert the system with his piece "Yearbook," which consists of a hydrocal cast of a yearbook of which the artist created rubbings. He then rolled up and wrapped a rubbing for each participating artist, creating a sort of gift economy.
Many of the works would be impressive even outside of the show's conceit. Gina Dawson's "Why they wanna stick me for my paper?" is composed of hundreds of tiny yellow decoupage flowers in a cylindrical glass container, with black flowers creating a smiley face at the top. It is meticulous, funny, and disturbing. Ryan Hoover's "Weave Study/ Self Portrait" is an exceptionally creepy 3-D self portrait carved out of Zapote wood that looks more like a demented orange rubber mask from David Lynch. Jason Hughes' "Freedom," an American flag made out of shredded money, is also beautiful and a bit disturbing in its aptness (an odd twist on the work of J.S.G. Boggs). In all three of these, the craftsmanship presents a different sort of self.
Jean Alexander Frater's "Pop" is one of the coolest pieces in the show. From a distance it appears to be a black, gray, and pink pattern; up close, however, it is clear that it is hundreds of miniature self-portraits of the artist blowing a bubble. The photos are black-and-white, but the artist daubed tiny circles of fleshy pink over the bubblegum, causing the completed piece to come across far more beautifully than it may sound.
Overall, the show is a testament to Malin's idea of the Guest Spot as the Reinstitute-a space that challenges the traditional contexts in which we think of or view art.
For more information, visit guestspot.org