The American Playground in Rome: Heikes at Fondazione Giuliani
Shown until December 12 at Fondazione Giuliani (Rome, Italy), “Consequences” is the irreverent curatorial project held by the American artist Jay Heikes.
A jocose corpus of artworks within silent white-cube walls shakes the Ancient Urbe. “Consequence” shows itself as an interesting experiment born out of Conny Purtill’s desire to create something “inefficient,” Heikes explains, and inspired by Lars Von Trier’s Five Obstructions: the director gives and asks materials for the final production of the artwork (with a canvas, an outhouse, a frog).
Nine artists are involved (Felix Culpa, Jessica Jackson Hutchins, Ari Marcopoulos, Josiah McElheny, Todd Norsten, Conny Purtill, Justin Schlepp, Gedi Sibony, Michael Stickrod), all acting within an already given ground. Grounds is, in fact, a series of works proposed by Purtill: a show within a show, in which the artists were called to intervene on given canvases. An irreverent result is soonly shown.
To Heikes, the main source of inspiration comes from Dropout Piece by Lee Lozano, whose “ghost” flows over the exhibition. Reading Sarah Lehrer-Graiwer’s book for Afterall on Lee Lozano’s Dropout Piece, Heikes manages to make a tribute to the artist, “an artist whose memory affects the form of everything this show is about” (Heikes).
However, artist and delegation seem to be an unlikely couple. “There is a point,” Heikes says, “[in which] a single artist can overtake collaborative intentions, owning the moment, resulting in a kind of sole authorship.” The show then challenges (and changes) the “old” concepts of authorship and collaboration by denying the two. All this creates an “American garden,” as Heikes calls it, in which artworks speak of mutual work and interpenetration of ideas. Roles and creative authorship are questioned, like how the “half Frankenstein” metaphorically illustrates cutting his fingers off (his hands being a cast from Heikes’s).
A family tree, a real tree, is the ultimate reflection on artistic “collaboration.” It occupies the main room, protruding from the roof. Eleven colored jackets hang on it, like artists hanging on “the tree that is still growing from Conny’s seed” (Heikes).
“Consequences” is an exhibition as well as a big artwork itself. It is the final result of the extravagant yet thoughtful playground built by an artist curator, in which plays on words and cryptic extravagances make their way through the arts. A thoughtful American playground has been created. Rome laughs a bit and then comes back to itself asking: “”Who’s the real artist here?”
Address: Via Gustavo Bianchi, 100153 – Rome – Italy
Opening hours: Tuesday to Saturday from 3:00pm to 7:30pm and by appointment