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Wednesday 10.19.05

« WWeek vs. Oregonian & vis art coverage | Main | (William + Lecture + Free) x 2 »

Mike Rathbun at the Art Gym


One of the most impressive solo shows in recent memory, Portlander Mike Rathbun's (N45°23.871' W122°38.864') combines the physical intersection of fabrication by hand and the more abstract problem of location.

The show consists of a massive 20 foot long boat suspended high above a wave floor in a matrix of hand cut two-by-twos. The boat looms ominously overhead the pleasant waves while listing athletically to one side as if it is being propelled by a phantom wind. Yet, the scaffold of two-by-twos seem to freeze both the waves and boat in a form of stasis, an important thing if one wants to pin down to one's location.

Beyond the impressive scale the installation correlates craft with location, two things one is keenly aware of when on a real ship. First, when on the water you realize how your location is constantly in question and second, one hopes the craft has structural integrity lest it shortly become a visit to Davey Jones's locker.

In contemporary art the quest for location has become a key issue, especially with biennials and art fairs decentralizing the art world.

Other artists like Martin Puryear are less engineering heavy and more poetic and if one has any qualms about this show it is how reliant on theater as a kind of surreal craft stunt it can seem. It is true Puryear can seem like a craft fetishist as well and similarly walks a fine line. But for these eyes the installation differs sharply from Puryear in that it addresses its temporal nature more. Instead of sculpture, this is an event which hearkens to the theme of discovery and vastness that ships and seas always evoke and it reminded me of the first time I read Kon Tiki. It's an apt metaphor for the art experience as a series of difficult to pin down inner and more tangible journeys as well.

(Last Weekend) The Art Gym, Marylhurst University, B.P. John Administration Building, Third Floor, 17600 Pacific Highway (Hwy 43)

Hours: Tuesday - Sunday, 12 noon to 4 p.m

Posted by Jeff Jahn on October 19, 2005 at 21:47 | Comments (0)


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