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Monday, October 19, 2020

Life + Arts

Blaffer Gallery’s latest installation includes international artists


Metaphor isn’t always meaningless, and the fall exhibition at the UH Blaffer Gallery comprises work from two international artists attempting to evoke reflective thoughts on the culture in which the world lives.

“It’s all up to interpretation,” gallery attendant Enchantee Hall said. “Someone can come in here and be like, ‘Oh, this is trash,’ and then another person can be like, ‘No, this is a metaphor on how Americans waste things.’”

The bottom floor of the Blaffer contains the installation and collage work of Mexico City-based Gabriel Kuri. “Nobody needs to know the price of your Saab,” Kuri’s first solo U.S. show, takes a close look at a routine and fairly trivial part of living – consumer transactions.

Throughout the last 10 years, Kuri documented certain customs and habits, such as parking, buying airline tickets and collecting plastic bags. His exhibition integrates evidence from his day-to-day life and shoves it right in viewer’s faces – literally.

For example, Kuri morphed the transience of an airline ticket receipt into a wall-sized woven tapestry representing the brief and often forgotten exchange between two people.

According to Kuri’s audio tour, “the tapestries are sturdy, made to last and full of material presence, unlike the ephemeral receipts.”

Possibly the most prominent of Kuri’s pieces, though, is a wire stretching 25 feet from the floor to the ceiling of the gallery. Column contains receipts and tickets arranged in alphabetical order on the wire, which Kuri constructed specifically for the space at the Blaffer. Many of the papers presented with Column were collected from Kuri’s time setting up his exhibition in Houston – which, as the audio tour says, allows “the artwork itself [to] document its making.”

Berlin-based Amy Patton also chose to have her first U.S. museum exhibit at the Blaffer, and like Kuri’s show, Patton’s work explores the afterthought of seemingly simple ideas.

According to the audio tour, “Patton is intrigued by how we make sense of objects, images and texts, despite the imperfect understandings, associative misfires and irrationality that are a natural part of how our minds work.”

Patton weaves literary allusions and found 16 mm film into three separate videos, which mix psychological stories with people’s unknown lives. The movies play with different aspects of memory and time, and are played continually in the gallery’s upstairs rooms.

Patton’s series of photographs in the show are derived from her most recent film, Oil, and the colorful, abstract images are still shots of light bouncing off the slippery surface of puddles of oil.

Both Kuri and Patton are showing at the UH Blaffer Gallery in the Fine Arts Building until Nov. 13. The Blaffer, which focuses on showing contemporary art, is free. For more on its current exhibitions, visit www.blafferartmuseum.org.


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