Sub: Cultural, Textual, Liminal

Peter Burr, Bob LaBobgah, Jim Lingo, Carin Mincemoyer, Drew Pavelchak, Todd Pavlisko Kristin Bly-Rogers, Philip Rostek, SARROGIT, and Carrie Schneider

7/7/2004 - 9/18/2004

How do we represent that part of ourselves submerged beneath the surface of things? The artists in Sub: Cultural, Textual, Liminal. Transform everyday objects, concepts and processes in order to recreate the experience of living in their particular social and political conditions: And from those positions they create new meanings that tell new stories about who they, and ultimately we, are in the world.

From Carrie Schneider’s documentation of the members of Free Ride to Philip Rostek’s transformation of the story of St. Francis, the works in Sub: are less about representations of people and more about how those representations are created — and to what end. What does it mean when a group is physically invested in its ideas so that they are literally sewn into the skin? How can we take the pedestrian materials that surround us to comment on our personal histories?

Peter Burr’s animated drawings and fabric canvases take on these questions, just as Jim Lingo’s layered collages sews together loaded remnants of his past. Throughout this show, cultural process flows from one plane to the next, like Bob LaBobgah’s inch of water that hovers just above the floor’s surface or Carin Mincemoyer’s bubbling water in a fishless aquarium or SARROGIT’s submersion within their own homemade sauce. Here, subcultural process occurs in front of us, within what we find familiar, and yet outside of language.

To be clear: Heather Mallak’s Cardboard Signs, which she purchased from men and women she identifies as homeless, do not aim to represent homeless people as a subculture — as a homogenous group with ideology, voice, or experience. Rather, her piece explores issues of appropriation. She paid the creators of the signs $5 for each one, then put them on pedestals in a gallery within her own conceptual framework. She suggests difficult questions: Whose voice comes through in her reconfiguration of these cultural objects? What is or isn’t exploitative in her actions? Where does the act of art take place? Who offers these interpretations?

Likewise, Schneider’s images don’t necessarily convey a monolithic narrative about the people she photographed. Her works comment upon the process of ethnography, of representation, and the idea of an object of study, without objectifying those who participate in her projects. And in each shot, what becomes most apparent is Schneider’s own participation. She composes her photographs such that her presence/absence moves through the series as the young bikers look back upon the photographer at work.

Sub: makes the point that culture is a specific historical moment as well as an abstraction that we use to identify ourselves — to ourselves and to others — in order to makes sense of our collective and disparate lives.

–Sharmila Venkatasubban