Support Hyperallergic’s independent arts journalism.
The military truck at the center of Mary Mattingly’s What Happens After, now on view at BRIC House, has been to Iraq, transporting weapons and soldiers in the first Gulf War, and then to Afghanistan. It didn’t kill anyone by itself, but as a military vehicle, was a conduit to carnage. It met an untimely end after the online auction Mattingly bought it from: Now it’s in pieces in the middle of an art gallery. Visiting the exhibition is an exercise in grappling with answering the title’s question — whether the new context neutralizes it, reclaims it, or hides the violence it was responsible for.
Mattingly makes viewers work for their own answers.
That I was looking at the guts of a military vehicle wasn’t immediately obvious. This is an exhibition whose power is revealed slowly, by walking through and around each of the torn pieces of the truck, imagining what they’ve been through, what they mean, and whether Mattingly’s deconstruction, made possible via a group of 12 artists, changes its meaning. By breaking the vehicle apart and placing it in a public space, did they deconstruct the violence out of it?
The first visible piece of the truck is a platform that once carried large weapons. In black and yellow, with wooden steps, it simply looks like a bare stage.
It will act as a stage in late September and October, when a series of musicians, dancers, and others will perform in the exhibition space. This use is not that far off from its original one — during war, the location where important battles occur is called a theater — but here it will host performances of a different kind. Mattingly explained her intentions behind hosting performers via email: “I wanted to co-create with artists and performers because I believe in artists’ abilities to reimagine possibilities together and separately,” and “to engage equally with violence and play.”
At first, the front of the vehicle looks like an overfed, cream-colored Jeep. It’s bigger than the average car, but nothing to be afraid of. To its right is a wooden ladder, hung with such imperceptible string; it hovers like a ghost. Next to it, a pair of green seats hang from the ceiling, swaying like playground swings.
When I turned my head slightly, however, I realized the door of the vehicle is also hanging from the ceiling, and tires are scattered at your feet. I walked through the tires and stood behind the dashboard, looking through the windshield, seeing the sand crusted in the tires. Staring out at the bleachers and the visitors sitting in BRIC’s cafe, I felt like a child playing at war — Jared Kushner on his Middle East tour wearing a flak jacket with his name on it, over his navy blue blazer.
By centering the actual machinery of war, literally bringing a military truck into a gallery What Happens After pushes viewers who haven’t experienced war to consider what that must be like, reminds them they aren’t exempt from answering the question the title poses. Whether they will seek answers to these questions depends on whether visitors are willing to get close to the truck. It’s uncomfortable, but perhaps it’s supposed to be.
New works by one of Bangladesh’s most prominent photojournalists, writers, and activists are on view at the Chicago art space through November 27.
Council often uses humor as a political tool to expose systems of power and inequality in a society in which even death carries a high price tag.
An exhibition at the San Francisco Opera House pairs the work of incarcerated artists with Beethoven’s story of unjust imprisonment.
Many works take disruption and repetition as their themes, and many artists resurface in different sections, creating multiple affinities.
Hear from Holly Jean Buck, Carolina Caycedo and David de Rozas, Simon Denny, Elizabeth Hoover, Renee Kemp-Rotan, Joseph Kunkel, and more at this free public event.
In Cooking with Paris, Hilton capitalizes on her portrayal of being a competent woman, while highlighting its anachronism through her absurd performance. Rosler manipulates the camera in the same way.
EFA Open Studios offers a portal into the creative habitats of over 65 artists working in Manhattan’s longest-running studio program, including Dannielle Tegeder, Wafaa Bilal, Cui Fei, and Anina Major.
A man says Blue Bayou took details of his life without his permission. Several women who appear in the documentary Sabaya say they did not consent to be filmed. How can filmmakers avoid these ethical pitfalls?
Ursula Biemann, Nicolas Bourriaud, and others said they will no longer participate in the event.
There is an official ban against the public mourning of Tiananmen Square victims in Hong Kong and mainland China.