“Tied Up at Home” at Blue Mark Studios confirms the well-known adage about “uncanny” being an inadequate translation of Freud’s “unheimlich,” which literally means “un-home-like.” For home, too, can be uncanny, and this show’s array of allusions to house and home is as uncanny as can be imagined.
The multilayered installation in the main gallery constitutes one of the most stunning installations any of us have seen lately in Atlanta, and we are fortunate that it is being reprised at the closing reception on June 17 from 8 to 10pm, for it can reveal its full uncanniness only after dark. Illuminated by black light, Megan Mosholder’s parabolic string sculptures frame the windows like a visionary hybrid of Gothic arches and immaterialized curtains, forming an eerie surround for Mosholder’s and William Mize’s glowing house within a house within the framework of a house in the center of the room. Video images shot by Mosholder and turned into a multiscreen installation by Ivan Reyes illuminate the room with flickering scenes of the abandoned houses that Mize also photographed and rendered in paintings on view in the lower gallery.
The bright illumination of the gallery below comes as a perceptual shock after the eerily visionary experience of the installation, but the paintings and photographs also subvert the viewer’s expectations, and deliver a vision of what once was home as a place of abandonment, alienation, and evocative wreckage.
Stacie Rose’s colorful geometric renderings on faux woodgrain might be considered the cheerful exception to this rule. Beach House, in fact, is not only a reference to a functioning residence, it’s an allusion to the endearing tackiness of a seaside refuge.
Wihro Kim and William Mize both paint depictions of houses in a state of ruin, but Kim’s perspectives are more vertiginous, not always leading the eye into clear or consistent geometric planes or angles of vision. Nonetheless, what looks at first like a more organic version of Cubist perspective resolves into a scene more reminiscent of the lines of battle in Iraq or Syria. The paradoxical multiple views are made possible by actual voids where parts of the architecture have gone missing.
Mize, on the other hand, documents decay. The photographs he works from may reveal the literal state of collapse that the paintings portray more abstractly, but the dilapidation is the consequence of neglect, not the darkness of history. If Kim’s paintings could be read as metaphors for psychic fragmentation, Mize’s have to be read as forlorn remnants that leave too little evidence to be readily interpretable.
It’s possible and even probable that I’m projecting too much onto all these works, for the pun of “Tied Up at Home” (Mosholder’s string transformations of architecture are also documented in dramatic photography in the gallery) implies entanglement in addition to being an allusion to Mosholder’s literally tied-up parallel parabolas. Perhaps these artworks are meant to allude to the broken or decayed relationships often concealed behind the facade of the word “home,” but the statement accompanying the exhibition implies something more positive than that.
Apparently the exhibition began with “notions of the intimacy of place … within the clandestine space of the house” and “allows the audience to consider what makes a space a home and how the structures themselves absorb and project the personalities of those who have lived in them.” Well, the exposed levels of enclosure of the main installation’s triple house certainly imply that the personal secrets of the inhabitants get encoded in the way they make their dwelling places, or that the intrinsic qualities of the dwelling places get encoded in the deepest levels of their unconscious minds, it’s hard to know which. But it is difficult for me to see anything but desolation in the midst of beautiful landscape in Kim’s work, or slow destruction obliterating the traces of habitation in Mize’s. Maybe I’m just not looking at it right.
The closing reception for “Tied Up At Home” is on Friday, June 17 at 8-10pm. The paintings and photographic prints on aluminum will remain on view in the downstairs gallery through Saturday, June 25.
Dr. Jerry Cullum is a freelance curator and critic living in Atlanta. His poems, reviews, and essays have appeared in a wide variety of local and national publications, including Art Papers and Art in America.