Thursday, February 23, 2012

Michael Zelehoski: Secondary Structures (Final)

In Secondary Structures, Michael Zelehoski’s first solo exhibition at DODGE gallery, the artist deconstructs three-dimensional utilitarian objects and meticulously reassembles them on a visually flattened plane, transforming these commonplace items into captivating simulacra of what they once were. 

One exemplary work is Barricade, created from the well-worn white-and-vermilion-striped plywood typical of a railroad crossing arm. Embedded as a low relief, the barricade’s form subtly twists and turns as the eye pans across the piece, its skewed perspective strangely mesmerizing. Other works are more heavily transformed from their original configuration. In the aptly titled Ammo Box series, the works look as though they have exploded, Zelehoski’s compositions capturing the moment when the fragments have just begun to fly apart. Zelehoski’s largest work, Crate (63 x 96 inches), is also his most dynamic. Similar to an assembly diagram for a complex Ikea purchase, planks of wood are suspended in midair, inches from their target.

It is the paradox of the artworks retaining the same materials and general appearances of their namesakes, yet no longer functioning in the same manner, that is at the heart of this engaging show.  By shortening the distance between the signified and the signifier, Zelehoski has pushed the contradictory message of Magritte’s The Treachery of Images to its very limit. 

1 comment:

  1. I think you do a good job capturing the overall themes in this show. In particular, the first paragraph accurately describes the totality of what is driving the work and your descriptive examples of specific works illustrate the motivations well.

    Personally, I’d like to see a little more of the analysis you employ in the first paragraph interwoven into the rich descriptions of the actual works. For example, you hint at a kind of simultaneity of deconstruction/reconstruction (coalescence/dispersal) that is happening in the two works appropriately titled Ammo Box and Crate. How specifically do these works connect with each other? How does Zelehoski’s peculiar conflation of image and object at once give rise to that sense of simulacra you opened with (i.e. representations that contain the objects)? This is maybe just a matter of a stronger sentence at the end. The “forest for the trees” reference seems a bit vague to me at a time when I want a sentence or two to really bring things together. Great job overall though.