Archive | August, 2010

Objects of Human Making @ SOAP Gallery

13 Aug

above photo courtesy of Carrie Hott :: Artist : Adam Hathaway
You can use the soap but you’d only be getting another man’s blood on your hands, literally. Artist Casey Logan alludes to Christ’s blood as a mechanism of salvation when incorporating his own blood into a bar of soap. His piece, This Soap Won’t Get You To Heaven, is part of Objects of Human Making, this month’s exhibition at SOAP Gallery. The show is an exploration of how something so mundane as lye and animal fat can connote hygiene, cleanliness and even reach into the more metaphysical ideas of purity and order.

The exhibition’s title was taken from Francis Ponge’s 97-page ode to soap, a project begun in France during WWII when the commodity was dearly missed. Guest Curator Carrie Hott asked 6 artists to create work based on a deep consideration of this basic element of human culture, the namesake of SOAP Gallery. The show consists of 9 greatly contrasting and well thought out pieces, befitting the gallery’s intimate space.

Leading into the space is Erica Gangsei’s trio of hand made attempts of mass produced toiletries including a toothbrush, toothpaste, and lump of soap. I enjoyed most the accompanying stack of dated pamphlets from some sort of entomology society that Gangsei provided. Whether the pamphlets were real or fabricated by the artist, located on the inside were requests that the government require all consumer products be labeled with a significant historical background of both the product and producer and a full account of the source materials and their capabilities. An awesome way to keep an informed public. I vote yes.
above photo Courtesy of Carrie Hott :: Artist : Sunaura Taylor
Sunaura Taylor reflects on soap as a form of order and structure by arranging a powerful collection of black and white photocopied images into a large, neatly tiled square, covering the gallery’s back left wall. Most of the images are accompanied by a small narrative documenting the exploitation of people with birth defects and missing limbs circus curiosities in the 1920s and ’30s. Taylor doctors the images with oil paint, directing the eye with yellow arrows and painting the nakedness onto clothed bodies, as if nudity is the reason everyone is staring. The figures placidly sit and smile at the viewer from the overwhelming number of index card sized pieces of flimsy computer paper. Taylor also incorporates charts of quartered animal parts, labeled for different classes of consumption. The charts are larger, maybe 8 1/2 by 11 inches and in color. Taylor informs and preserves these inhumane and unsoap-like practices into a mosaic that is unassuming at first, but once you read the narratives and get to know the people, it forms a great presence within the gallery space.
Objects of Human Making explores soap’s many facets, some to the point of Ponge’s fetish-like capacity, and successfully takes soap away from a dull utilitarian perspective. But it could also be taken as a reminder to take everyday objects into deeper consideration. Most soap is made of animal fat (creepy) and lye, a chemical also used to cure green olives, clean your oven, or burn a whole in your hand to prove to Brad Pitt you’re a man that knows he’s gonna die someday! Fight Club anyone?

On view August 7-29th