Interiority gets exteriorized at UIS Gallery
A smiley-face pin balanced on a wall-mounted thermostat; an infant’s onesie reflected in an antique mirror; an office lamp propping open a window shade. The experience of walking through “Interior Space” – an installation which opened July 26 at University of Illinois Springfield’s Visual Arts Gallery – is something like wandering into a stranger’s sparse attic or onto the set of a dream sequence in a 1960s Italian film.
The work, by Allyson Packer, is spread throughout the entire gallery (occasionally even beyond its physical boundaries). Packer, who is from Albuquerque, New Mexico, is a summer resident in the Enos Park Residency for Visual Artists program. Although at first glance it might seem like there is little or nothing on display, a little hunting gradually reveals a bounty of unlikely objects, including the ones described above, many of them displayed in even less likely ways. The white-painted pedestals and dividers, traditionally used as stands for sculptures or surfaces on which to hang paintings or drawings, are here arranged in deliberately asymmetrical, often counterintuitive ways – leaning on one another, clustered together, even placed on top of the object on display. Multiple trips through the gallery reveal pieces one may have missed the first, second or even third time.The items, distributed throughout the space with deceptive precision and wit, were all borrowed from Springfield residents by Packer for the purpose of the exhibition. In an artist’s statement regarding the intentions behind the exhibit, she describes a desire to employ “hiding, revealing and discovering as aesthetic strategies” where “the sentimental becomes strange and the overlooked becomes manifest” to create work that “engages viewers to re-envision the boundaries of their shared spaces.”
“Interior Space” is both dislocating and rewarding, like impersonal, artistic voyeurism which inevitably reveals more about the viewer’s inner life than the anonymous worlds from which the objects came.
Also at the UIS gallery on July 26 was a one-night-only multichannel audio installation by Normal, Illinois-based artist and composer ZW Buckley, entitled “faith comes by hearing.”
Buckley described the work as “exploring the themes of transience and permanence within Springfield’s Enos Park neighborhood.” While thematically related to “Interior Space,” the jarring sounds of the installation, played continuously in a stairwell near the gallery entrance, seemed more likely to drive listeners away after a short period of exposure than to invite close examination. The effect is perhaps as much a function of the uninviting physical space assigned to it as the dissonance of the largely ambient sounds – including trains, traffic and snatches of music.
“Interior Space” is on display in the University of Illinois Visual Arts Gallery, located on the UIS campus inside the Health and Sciences Building, Room 201. The gallery is open from 11 a.m. until 6 p.m., Monday through Thursday. For more information, visit www.uis.edu/visualarts/gallery.
Scott Faingold can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.