A nearby video by artist Stéphane Gilot adds a Tangerine Dream-like crescendo to a recent installation by local artist Lisa Benschop, whose dewy green-gold and wood vitrine-assemblages line Truck Gallery’s entrance space in the group show ‘Salvaging Utopia’. Objects, textures, miniatures, and throne-like object-homages bring to mind the stoic eccentricity of the stories of romantic remains found in oddity exhibits such as California’s The Museum of Jurassic Technology. At first, Benschop’s collection-based assemblages seem to come directly from a period in history when folk-craft, domestic, mass-produced styles of a particularly popular garden-green and Swedish-tan line of objects in the 1970s accessorized and activated the home. In a recent artist talk, Benschop spoke of the shifts in home decorating during periods such as post-WWII and subsequent decades which responded to home-culture’s need for multi-purpose spaces within increasingly modest domestic space. Fascinated by the cultural roles of these objects, Benschop has been exploring their potential for both an updated era-ideal and as the material for creating environments for a kind of alternative object-identity.
Speaking of her installation process, Benschop explained, “I respond to what presents itself to me.” Without a lot of planning beforehand, she builds her object-environments on the spot, responding intuitively to the nature of her collected material, the context in which the objects were found, and their exhibition space. There is a tactile presence to these arrangements; objects are alive through their use in the past, through being collected and arranged by Benschop, and through their ongoing display. A larger assemblage in the exhibition houses what Benschop admits is a kind of “reliquary…a place to honor all these objects.” Describing her earlier installations, Lisa explained, “the work felt really young then, and now it’s become a fantasy environment with no function at all.” Tiny gold-tinted snails’ shells seem to grow like the beginning symptoms of a nervous alterna-matter from the unnatural mass-produced material of plastic and wood. Antennae-like material sprouts quietly from another object, suggesting communicative potential. An oversized tiara crowns the ‘reliquary’, operating as a suggested baroque reading of the exhibition while also unsettling the viewer’s instant visual references towards a more literalized, ‘fertile’ environment of display.
‘Salvaging Utopia’ is on view until August 4th.
(article published in the August issue of BeatRoute).