New exhibits are a modest attempt at a big idea

Reviewing Modern Fuel’s winter releases

This January, Modern Fuel unveiled two new exhibits for the winter semester — Ritualia and Untitled (eyelids)

The wide open space of the main room features a variety of scattered pieces that viewers can wander around, under and through. Altogether, these form the exhibit Ritualia, meant to re-examine and critique the  activities our society has become used to acting out while ignoring their consequences. 

Impossible to miss, a dead pine tree lies on the floor, wrapped in plastic gauze. This work — titled Needles — gives viewers the disturbing effect of a mummified body. The unique piece by artist Lumír Hladík provides an uncomfortable view of post-Christmas reality. 

In his description of the piece, Hladík states his desires for the work to portray “the arrogance of the anthropomorphic view that our universe is at humankind’s disposal.” 

Less evocative is Hladík’s other installation, titled Yawn. Here, a glossy, silver spandex cross sits illuminated and attached to the wall with door holders. What’s clear in this piece is that Yawn is supposed to be a commentary on religion, but what exactly that is seems vague.  

In the exhibit handout, Hladík explains the work is supposed to resemble gym equipment, connecting the element of masochism in both religious practice and exercise. Even with that message in mind, the shiny fabric cross doesn’t seem to vibe with the “man vs. nature” theme the rest of the exhibit offers.  

On the other hand, artist Dagmara Genda revisits the problem of “humanizing” nature with her vinyl installment Beating the Bush, which lines the far wall of the first room and drapes over the doorway. 

A collage displaying photographs of plants gives the impression of a trellis, but upon closer inspection, they don’t all match up, and have all been taken in different light conditions. 

(Photo by Julia Balakrishnan)

Genda’s intention is to protest the human tendency to disinfect nature in order to make it decorative.

Ironically, the piece looks just like what it’s trying to argue against. Many hours went into photographing the same bush under different conditions, a repetitive process that does little to inspire.

The real gem of the newly released exhibits is hidden away in the very back of the gallery — what sounds like soft whispering leads you to Jordan Loeppky-Kolesnik’s exhibit Untitled (eyelids), a dark, gate-encircled area with TV screens playing clips on loop. 

This piece explores the isolating effects of rumination and how sensory experience influences it. 

The exhibit’s space is very intimate. A cushion on the floor in a gated-off corner only has room for one. Images play of a pair of hands cutting plant stems with a razor and then bandaging them up while rain pours down. 

The video’s narrator calmly relates a rapid stream-of-consciousness series of thoughts: “I pause and I don’t know how long it lasts — hours, days, months, years.” There’s no sense of time.

This same meditative process is repeated on the other television, this time with clips of a large snake winding around a person’s body. Loeppky-Kolesnik totally succeeds in capturing one’s personal thoughts of isolation in a public space. 

The feelings that Untitled (eyelids) elicit are what make the new exhibits at Modern Fuel worth visiting and for the curious, the best experience may be in going alone. 

 

Corrections

The article has been updated to reflect the changes suggested by the author. 

The Journal regrets the error.

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