Emergency Measures

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The Power Station

Curated by Gregory Ruppe and Noah Simblist
Dallas, TX
2015

ARTISTS:
Rodney Graham, Jill Magid, Mark Manders, K.r.m Mooney, Lais Myrrha, R.H. Quaytman, Alona Rodeh.

Good evening / this is your captain / we are about to attempt a crash landing / please extinguish all cigarettes / place your tray tables in their upright, locked position / your captain says: put you head on your knees / your captain says: put your head on your hands / captain says: put your hands on your head / put your hands on your hips heh heh / this is your captain-and we are going down / we all going down, together…
– Laurie Anderson “From the Air” (1982)

Emergency measures are signaled through graphic means or an exaggeration of light or sound. They are, by design, built from instinctual forms of heightened awareness. These signals are frequently used to guide us through emergency situations or to alert us about the potential of danger. However, these signals are often rendered ineffectual, a result of the normality of modern living. We are all familiar with the banality with which flight attendants’ motions prepare us for crash landings, fire, or the absence of breathable air. The siren sound of police cars or fire trucks have become synonymous with bird chirping or the clamor of urban development.

This exhibition presented a group of artworks that inhabit a space between positions of presence and absence, certainty and doubt, and anxiety and ease. They explore a range of ways that emergency measures can be signaled. Some are abstract, some metaphorical and some are more literally related to the ways that a rupture in daily life can be either delineated or avoided.

Alona Rodeh’s video Barking Dogs Don’t Bite (2012) is shot in an empty storefront in Tel Aviv that suddenly fills with smoke, provoking a piercing alarm and the sprinkler system to go off. But just as suddenly as it started the emergency ends.

Jill Magid’s Failed States (2011) includes a video, novella, and a 1993 armored Mercedes station wagon resistant to .44 Magnum gun fire. Formerly Magid’s family car, it references a car used by Fausto Cardenas who, in 2010, fired six shots on the steps of the Texas State Capitol.

Another example of using a car as a space of simultaneous protection and potential harm is Rodney Graham’s Halcyon Sleep (1994). For this piece, the artist sedated himself and then was taken to a car and driven around Vancouver with traffic and city lights flashing over him as he sleeps peacefully.

R.H. Quaytman’s Distracting Distance, Chapter 16 (2010) is a painted image of a blue glass arrow. The simplicity of this sign echoes the graphics that are designed to lead us out of dangerous situations. But this painting is also from a series that Quaytman has related to “distracting distance,” a term borrowed from a poem by Osip Mandlestam about the 1932/33 Russian famine.

Lais Myrrha’s Projeto Gameleira 1971 (2014) was a site specific installation at Pivo in São Paulo that recreated one of Brazil’s biggest civic construction disasters. In 1971 a building designed by Oscar Niemeyer collapsed during construction killing over 100 workers. For this exhibition we will include a set of posters that Myrrha created that depict the original photograph of the disaster along with text written by the artist.

K.r.m. Mooney creates meticulously delicate, biomorphic assemblages. The works are sometimes parasitic, clinging to or tapping into the gallery’s infrastructure. They seem devoid of functionality while simultaneously begging for activation. They are alien in form, threatening like a weapon and ordinarily useful like prostheses or a household appliance.

Finally, Assignment by Mark Manders includes a small and carefully folded pile of clothes, as if someone had changed to prepare for something more intense. Perhaps they changed into a Hazmat suit or like the late artist Jeremy Blake, took off their clothes before walking into the ocean to die.


The Power Station

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