Stephen Scott Smith at Breeze Block is a maze of glimpses
This month Stephen Scott Smith definitely wins the prize for ambition and immersive follow-through for his solo show SEEYOUYOUSEE at Breeze Block Gallery
Years ago Smith caught PORT's attention for his Matthew Barney tinged spectacle
but this show certainly ups the ante production wise by installing a Kubrickian maze of suburban lobby-like interstitial spaces within the gallery over a 2 month period. At first SEEYOUYOUSEE seems like a test of one's navigational skills but each turn only rewards the viewer with constant surveillance and sheetrock-enforced constriction leading to an ever growing sense ennui and esoteric paranoia not unlike some of Kubrick's most famous films (2001, Eyes Wide Shut etc.). The carpeting is banal, the office plants are banal and the doorways are ergonomically way too small giving one a distinct case of apprehension and even more fleeting glimpses of others also caught in the maze. If this sounds terrible, it isn't. There are some reflective neo-minimal pieces of art that recall Kubrick's famous Monolith from 2001 as well as John McCracken, Carl Andre and Joseph Beuys too. Somehow the sense of suffocated kitsch in the main gallery space works and its ominous aspect is completely different than the fun house atmosphere of Rem Koolhaas' surveillance strewn Prada store in Beverly Hills
To what end? It is perceptual but in an overly familiar way. Apparently many of the works and doorways have some sort of closed circuit TV surveillance on them giving everything a dated 90's voyeuristic feel (think of the movie Sliver) which then brings me to consider how our much more intrusive Google GPS tracked and overlayed smart phone surveillance has become far more acceptable today. In a way this show brings the corrosive malice and ennui back to the consciousness of viewers living in a world where so many cameras are tracking their every move.
The soundtrack with its ominous bass drone and the slight sound of someone seemingly at work give the whole affair a cinematic effect, which pays off with the reveal that Smith has chiseled out a round hole in the huge stack of OSB wood in the back room. This brings the Matthew Barney industriousness and the Kubrick references full circle. Once again, I'm left wondering when Smith will fully emerge with his own language? Ultimately, he is closer this time around and it is an important step.
Still, the sheer scale and intensity of the experience makes this a must see (and see and see) for anyone who is a fan of Kubrick or immersive art environments... something we don't see often inside west-side venues. Good to see Breeze Block bring back some of the swagger to the Everett Station Lofts area, let's see more of this sort of thing in this important location with 13+ gallery spaces right next door to eachother.
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