Although aesthetically the exhibition is simply text on paper, Klotzman’s pieces offer hours of deciphering complicated histories. It might surprise you how long you can spend looking at the work and still have more to see.
Life Questions Herself So At Me, an exhibition currently on view at Red Space Gallery, is an intimate portrait of artist Lauren Klotzman conveyed through the words of former lovers and writings of E.E. Cummings. However, more than a sentimental regurgitation of the past, the show evolves around themes of participation, failure, and the control of curation vs. the chance of game.
The text-based work is inspired from the children’s game Mad Libs, a game that operates on the relinquished control of an author to create jumbled, often silly, stories or phrases. Klotzman temporarily releases the authority of memory, allowing past lovers to blindly fill in the blanks of former relationships, using words they felt personified themselves. She then assumes curatorial control, planting the words in the context of E.E. Cumming’s erotic poems. The result of this game is a cluttered grouping of words tangled within intimate poetry and recounted details of past relationships.
The work fits appropriately within the intimate gallery of Red Space Gallery. The viewer enters a space of personal details. The poetry is passionate, even with the out-of-place insertion of random words. However intimate the subject matter though, the lovers are recalled in an almost detached narrative voice. The viewer is equally drawn in while simultaneously being kept at a safe distance.
Artist, ex-lovers, and viewer are all participants in this game, whether actively or passively. The viewer is left with remnants of personal history, deciphering the mess of words and past events. It is playful while also defeated. Even the lovers that declined participation appear as blank pages, telling more of the relationship than the accompanying synopsis. In this way the exhibition thrives on failure, the failures of past relationships and the failure of the game when there aren’t two players.
The format of the pieces was selected words from the Cumming’s poems and lovers on left, intertwined words and erotic poem in the center, and personal bio/synopsis of the former lover. All combined to create an emotional, complex history of past relationships.
Klotzman’s project constructs a personal group portrait, mostly through words and verses of others, that contextualize into a multi-dimensional self-portrait. Life Questions Herself So At Me is on display at Red Space Gallery through June 24th. Red Space Gallery is run by Caitlin G. McCollom and Carlos Acevedo. The space exhibits conceptual contemporary work from emerging artists. Definitely check it out!