At first, Candice Greathouse’s multimedia exhibition “Ain’t No Party” contradicts its title. Gold and silver streamers cover the windows of Eyedrum, a DIY space in downtown Atlanta. Inside, photographs of confetti, pastel pink Mylar, rainbow cake, and flowers are hung on the walls. A red carpet leads the viewer forward, to where velvet ropes on gold and red stanchions invite the viewer to pass through dark, heavy curtains. A low-hanging disco ball rotates to upbeat music. All the “party” boxes are checked, but linger a minute, and it soon becomes clear that something about this party has gone wrong.
Greathouse’s photographs of standard party paraphernalia, such as streamers or flower petals, exude discomfort. In Untitled (pastel pink mylar), the material is wrinkled and crunched, as if pulled from the back of a closet or trampled underfoot. The striking texture of the material is sharpened by the adjacent photograph, Untitled (silver pearl latex), a blurry picture of gloomy gray balloons. Two other works, Untitled (confetti) and Untitled (silvergold fringe), are also blurred, evoking speed (or, more likely, drunkenness). Despite the golds and pinks that appear in many of the works, in the end, the most dominant color is the dull gray seen in the background and shadows of the works. Even Untitled (floral), a beautiful, romantic photograph of pale pink flower petals, seems moody. Through a keen use of color, texture, and light, Greathouse turns photographs of otherwise bright party objects into something drab, even lonely. The outlier here is Untitled (ROY G. BIV cake), which shows the cross-section of a cheerful rainbow cake. While the other photographs play on an underlying dreariness, ambiguity, even irony, Untitled (ROY G. BIV cake) almost comes off like a cheap shot.
Greathouse sets the installation to draw you toward the back of the exhibition, making it easy to bypass the strange, melancholic photographs. There is a red carpet, after all, and the beckoning disco ball that insist on drawing attention to whatever lays behind the dark curtains. Eerie blue light pulses through a break in the curtains. The music, an impressive creation of Greathouse’s own making, blasts a layered mix of three different versions of Madonna’s “Where’s the Party” and the Dreamgirl’s showtune “Ain’t No Party.” It all feels very David Lynch-y.
Behind the curtain exists the bizarre, unsettling world of a bad party. The carpet leads up to a single, dark purple photograph: Untitled (disco ball on velvet). Inflated silver balloons lie in a tangle on the ground. A string of white lights on the ground loops around to the back of the wall, and leads to … the gallery bathroom and a pile of installation supplies. The music blares. The set-up is, in some ways, hilarious. The excitement promised by the red carpet, music, and disco ball ends up feeling like a joke played on the viewer. It’s also sad—it’s hard to shake the feeling that this is a party gone wrong, or that no one showed up. The space evokes futile charade, and loneliness.
With this near minimalist installation, Greathouse has created a space that is simultaneously inviting and unnerving. Overall, “Ain’t No Party” feels anticlimactic, even disappointing. Just like a bad party.
E.C. Flamming is an Atlanta-based writer. She has been published in ART PAPERS, Paste, ArtsATL, and The Peel Literature & Arts Review.