The Hole Shebang

April 26th, 2012

It was among the best indoor pool parties, and certainly the best one in an art gallery.  The Water’s Fine was the second solo show by Grayson Cox at Klemens Gasser & Tanja Grunert, Inc.

Grayson Cox, "The Water's Fine," at Klemens Gasser & Tanja Grunert

For the self-evidently ambitious, adventurous, and fun The Water’s Fine, gallery visitors immediately confronted a choice between committing or bailing. Here, committing was marked by a phenomenological and physical interaction: one had to hunch over and scurry under the expansive “table” to reach the nearest opening. (Then, stand up and breathe.) The conceptual gesture belongs to the viewer, soon feeling the burn in his or her thighs.

Grayson Cox, "Table," 2012

Next, a viewer contemplated which “hole” to pursue next. (Where do you see yourself? Do you want the capacious big hole? Or is the single-serve small hole more private?) And while shuffling underneath, the viewer might begin to appreciate this architectural underworld. The hiding child: “Will anyone know I’m here?” The forensic professional: “Now to see how they built this.” The lecherous adult: “Can I do bad things here?”

Drop in, drop out

Chris Benfield of Benfield Architects solved the problems of building this landmass of inverted cocktail tables, this anti-matter pool party, called Table. According to Grayson, Benfield “shared his library of books on ergonomic design that proved invaluable when determining actual measurements for body odor zones and body-space considerations. Mr. Benfield also designed the way the sculpture would be made into a kit and fit together without and screws or nails.”

Architect Chris Benfield (center) with arrayed body-odor zones

Spaced around the perimeters of Table were slightly more than a dozen bleach prints on canvas, each framed by wood and enamel frames, many equipped with cupholders or hand cubbies.  With titles like The Welcome, The Confrontation, and The Understudy, which could be inspired by Irving Goffman, Grayson reveals his interest in interpersonal dynamics. These static works fit within a social, theatrical, vision that no doubt finds support in the relational Table.  How far could this go?  Are vestigial fingerprints and beer residue desirable on those enamel frames?  How about half-full or half-empty cans, the ubiquitous “floaters?”  And what does it mean when nobody is there?  Interesting to me is how Grayson speaks about the prophylactic qualities of gray enamel, even though the entirety of The Water’s Fine, including the raw, bunker space seem to invite ergonomic pentimenti and other scuff marks.

Moreover, Grayson speaks in interviews about “the stations of the cross” and votive “candles” when describing these works, which, with integrated frames and sometimes hinges, seem like altarpieces. The religious content becomes apparent, and one wonders – does Table separate the sky above from the terrain below? Who gets to go above and who remains below? Or the other way around?

El Greco, "The Burial of the Count of Orgaz," 1586
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