Saturday, January 5, 2008
Beth Campbell: Following Room
Beth Campbell: Following Room (Seen above)
The Whitney Museum of American Art
December 7, 2007 - February 24, 2008
In "Following Room," there are no mirrors. And yet, the tasteful banality of the objects inhabiting the installation propel the viewer into a fun-house of contemporary middle-class decor. A scene that should be all but devoid of artistic splendor is transubstantiated by the simple act of careful arrangement.
Two writings on the installations of Beth Campbell make reference to anterograde amnesia, in which the individual affected cannot form new long term memories and is thus living in a state of disorientation and repetition (1,2). Two movies, Memento and 50 First Dates, consider the pattern a life would fall into when forced to live in the shadow of this condition. The patient would be forced into a cycle of repetition. As the short term memories are continually lost, the patient reverts back to the original day and time of their accident, unable to be aware that anything has changed or that time has passed until they are notified by subtle clues in their environment, such as tattoos, videos, and newspapers.
"Following Room" is a choice example of how Campbell's work creates this disorienting sensation, similar to a hall of mirrors. It is the viewer's ability to see the subtle clues of the environment that allows him or her to detect the masterful illusion. The lack of personal reflection, the finite repetition of the scene, the ability to see other viewers walking around the exhibit, all tune the audience into the illusion. Much like an amnesiac sufferer, the audience of "Following Room" is dependent on the details to discern between illusion and reality.
1. House of Mine: Beth Campbell's Anxiety of the Antecedent. Kukielski, Tina. Whitney Museum of American Art, 2007.
2. Edward Winkleman: Artist of the Week 7/5/05