I recently visited Agnes Scott College’s Dalton Gallery for the first time to see the current show, Quadrennial: Greater Decatur (QGDD 2010). QGD features an aesthetically varied selection of eight artists from the Greater Decatur area working in various media including video, painting, photography, and sculpture. Despite the geographic proximity of the curated artists, no clear thematic parallels or patterns connect them into a collective viewing.
While lack of cohesion is often a prelude to a confusing group show, QGD benefits from the clear distinctions between the artists. Each artist’s work is displayed in its own, mostly enclosed space within the gallery, which by its very design encourages isolated viewing in each of its rooms.
In particular Matt Haffner‘s video installation, Between 2 Worlds feels more at home within this controlled space than at Convergent Frequencies, when it was presented on the side of a shipping crate during an outdoor performance. Here, as the air conditioning hummed ambiently, I could settle into a closer viewing and clearly hear the subtleties and movements of the sound design. Male gazes will likely enjoy the video segment featuring a mysterious lady in a checkered dress who appears ephemerally between clips. Visuals include shots of industrial power lines and closeups of skin so extreme you can make out individual follicles. The camera’s gaze zooms in until details disappear and, symbolically, desire is frustrated by impermanence.
Mark Brotherton‘s mixed-media paintings first introduce themselves as maps or puzzles replete with written clues and messages, but no clear solutions arise. One is left with words as visual tropes, vaguely recognizable icons, and melting lumps of color.
Jonathan Bouknight‘s Forever Young questions gender construction using photography, video, and painting within the context of a room-sized installation. A dark, brazen sense of humor and impropriety runs through this work, enabling a less defensive, almost comical viewing of queer subject matter.
Taken as appetizer-sized samples of each artist’s work, Quadrennial: Greater Decatur is well worth the visit.
The exhibition Quadrennial: Greater Decatur continues at Dalton Gallery of Agnes Scott College through November 21.