I missed the show.
I left the opening early, then I left town for a little under a week, and when I returned, it was all over.
So I missed the show. Or at least I missed the good part. Because this is how Making Do worked, according to their I-made-do-on-Yale-School-of-Art-stationary flyers: “On Oct. 10 the show opens, work starts / On Oct. 17 work ends, reception from 7 til 9 p.m. / On Nov. 08 the show closes.” The point? “Four artists making work on site for one week.”
It seems to me that the great beauty of this show, which was curated by Associate Dean Samuel Messer, was meant to be its performative aspect: This is what making art looks like. School of Art Dean Robert Storr, whose statement was printed for the show, highlighted its aspect of “pragmatic invention”: that, in fact, the four artists at hand — Mark Borthwick, Luis Gispert ART ’01, Geoff McFetridge and Karyn Olivier — had to create with specifically chosen materials and had to respond “imaginatively to the relative quantity or scarcity of it.” In order to do so, they were asked to use the Green Hall Gallery as studio space for the given time, and the public was encouraged to come and interact with the production.
For me, though, the point of coming after-the-fact is to collect clues. Though this exhibit emphasized in-the-moment-of, I played detective on the morning after.
The areas where each artist worked are vaguely delineated by reproductions of the show’s program with the expected list of featured artists. In each artist’s space, this paper appears, with each name but the correct one crossed out.
The space where most people choose to enter has been set out as Karyn Olivier’s space. She’s taken gray concrete cylinders of all shapes and sizes and laid them out to quote a playground visually: Here, two concrete slides — one flamboyantly “wavy” and another plain but dressed with two lime green, slim rectangular boxes — are built over wood planks. Two more concrete cylinders are joined by a wooden rod to resemble a dumbbell. Against the far wall, Olivier has constructed a series of wooden crutches bound together by duct tape, and throughout this paved mess she scatters single cement cylinders.
Deeper into the gallery, Olivier’s work seems to be separated from McFetridge’s by a volleyball net lookalike made of two wooden poles and bright orange string. (Is it Olivier’s? McFetridge’s? More likely the former.) McFetridge’s and Gispert’s spaces — separated because Gispert has set up on the lower mezzanine level, which you see first from above and then walk down to — seem to use the same basic material and visual vocabulary. Both heavily incorporate posters that say words like “Everything Disappearing,” “Web of Lies,” “Four Points Realizing the Absoluteness of Their Aloneness” and “Psychological Convention Colony Hotel 1156 Chapel Street” (an exhibit favorite), appearing with shapes like a medium teal triangle, a large black square and a grid of red dots.
Some highlights: Gispert sewed together two cartoonish profile cut-outs (one gray, one black, both with yellow cut-out almond eyes) and descended two yellow-painted wooden ramps from the eyes, at around 6 feet high, that fall to the floor at an angle: another slide? Close by, a roll of white paper is printed with red inverted images of triangle and half-rounded-oval shapes that create scary monster-teeth. Here, it’s hung from a half-circle with the same teeth printed in reverse in black, while the same pattern is reproduced over in McFetridge’s section, where he tacks a long strip of the stuff to the wall with large, wooden, painted oversized pins (we’re talking three, four feet long, with heads of four inches or so) used throughout the two spaces. Also, where Gispert uses string to bind together the two cutout heads, McFetridge uses the string-like vessels to connect pieces in order to illustrate his “Web of Lies,” wrapping around the artwork, itself.
Finally, both Gispert and McFetridge played with the use of circles. Gispert uses a poster with the words “The Moon on Fire” and an image of a yellow circle (ahem, the Sun), while McFetridge leaves a large void where he’s obviously cut out a blue circle, given it legs, and pushed it towards Olivier’s playground. Yes, they interact. Yes, the longer you stay, the more you have fun.
In Borthwick’s space — who, from accounts overheard, is the token performance artist meant to really drive the point home if you didn’t get it from the people clearly working in the gallery — I feel that I missed something: the show. I missed the show. The space feels like something once lived here, and perhaps something crazy, judging from the scrawled poems left on the floor (“As my face falls inetheral (sic) / before the sun / suns on”) and the notes which mark the artist as gone/missing/replaced. For Borthwick, my reading rests on the fact that through the desk, the strewn flowers, the piles of photographs, the colored strips, the fragments, the burned and bad-smelling incense, the flower left in a pretty vase tacked on the wall that reminds me of old cars with vessels like these — through these, something once was. However, I was not here. My reading rests on his and my own absence.