“Shoot Your Mouth Off” Panel Discussion

“Shoot Your Mouth Off” panel discussion
hosted by Plush Gallery, Dallas on 5/21/2011
sponsored by CentralTrak, UTD
Moderator: Heyd Fontenot
Panelists: writer/curator Noah Simblist, artist Margaret Meehan, gallery owner Julie Webb, and collector Carl Niendorff

“Did anyone bring a gun?” asked Heyd Fontenot, moderator of the “Shoot Your Mouth Off” panel discussion last Saturday evening. That’s probably a smart question to ask when one is in a state that has legalized the right to carry concealed handguns onto school grounds. No one was packing. No one even talked about muzzle velocity or modified ejection ports. Instead, the discussion moved immediately into more complex topics as panelist Noah Simblist discussed how architecture frames violence and the assertion of power through the positioning of weaponry. Discussion followed about the beautification of weapons (such as “Hello Kitty” designer guns), the artist/writer William S. Burroughs’s gun fetish, and the practice of collecting of “tough art” as the audience and panelists jointly navigated topics of power, violence, and cultural norms that aren’t so normal.

The panel was the verbal companion piece to the “Gun & Knife Show” co-curated by Fontenot and Webb and held at CentralTrak. The art in the exhibit takes into account the fascination with guns and the ability of artists to re-contextualize the weaponry. Both the panel discussion and art show were an invitation to disrupt classic right/wrong notions about weapons, seeing them as both artwork and cultural icon in a region with a predominance of gun ownership.

Many audience members offered up stories, mentioning that they grew up with guns and art in the house. Which begs the question of how learned cultural behaviors replicate themselves, simultaneously furthering the appreciation of both weaponry and fine art in our society.

~Ryder Richards
Published by D Magazine’s FrontRow  (PDF)

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Review: “Making a Killing” by Hugo Garcia Urrutia

“Making a Killing” by Hugo Garcia Urrutia
New Works Space, curator Charissa Terranova
McKinney Avenue Contemporary, Dallas_ on view through June 11, 2011

photo by MK Semmos

Towards the back of the project room at the McKinney Avenue Contemporary, light projects through the bullet-perforated skin of Hugo Garcia Urrutia’s monolithic gold cube, spattering a constellation of illuminated patterns across nearby walls. Garcia Urrutia’s work, “Making a Killing,” we are told by the artist and curator Charissa Terranova in a statement, is a reaction to Mexico’s drug related violence. A metaphor for the country, its punctured skin referencing the death of innocents caught in a spray of brutality, light erupting from it’s confines. Across the room and lording over it all, there is an ornate, gold leafed empty throne. Seen in this way, the gold cube presents a portrait of a culture once closed and complicit in secrecy, no longer able to contain the atrocities committed.

Formally, Garcia Urrutia’s large aluminum piece references Judd’s architectural cubes, but subverts the minimalist notion through the incorporation of light and gold, materials which we can take as symbolic references to spirituality and money. Cordoning off the interior light-emitting space with golden barriers, the work isolates the audience, denying entry and assigning the role of outside observer. We may only view the aftermath of the violence, a staccato pattern recorded into the skin of the cube, which simultaneously creates a series of voyeuristic peepholes from which to view the internal workings.

Conceptually, the piece investigates complex issues related to segregation of the commons, architecture as site for violence, and the contradiction inherent in forcing secrecy. However, the piece is too pretty to develop a gritty activism or prolonged indignant anger. More importantly the use of light (reminiscent of several World Trade Center proposals) references those lost victims, obliging “Making a Killing” to function as a memorial, trading outrage for remembrance.

~Ryder Richards
edited by Peter Simek
Published in D Magazine’s FrontRow (PDF)