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  • Author: ANNA ZANE
  • Date: NOVEMBER 9, 2021
  • Format: ONLINE

Art and Anti-Structure

Photos Courtesy of anonymous gallery and Shaark Senesac

It’s the last week to trek over to Baxter Street’s inconspicuous anonymous gallery and catch Vegyn, the impeccable group show curated by K.O Nnamdie, featuring work by Darren Bader, Dan Colen, Rose Salane, Agathe Snow, and Andre Walker. Of course, with a lineup so talented and genuinely astute, in tandem with a curator who has proven to be nothing if not thoughtful and deliberate, it goes without saying that this show is not about avoiding animal products.

Instead, Nnamdie credits the producer of the same name as a source of inspiration that ties into the show’s thesis— a deeper dive into, and almost an inverse of, the “good life” the many interpretations of such a sentiment. These renowned contemporary artists push past pondering physical health, articulating the meaning and weight of spiritual and mental wellness in various mediums or their antitheses. It is a dialogue between the artists and the idea of “anti-structure,”— which should not be missed.

“What gets you out of bed in the morning? What motivates you to go to a job you may not love, to be healthy, save up to buy a house, or a luxury car? I like things I don’t understand. That’s why I didn’t mind the turbulence yesterday, or the rain today — the uncertainty doesn’t bother me.”

The show itself, which opened with an incredibly tense and tender performance presented by Colen in collaboration with CJ Johnson, Kevin Pajarillaga, and Brian DeGraw of Gang Gang Dance— the striking visual remnants of which remain in the gallery space— will be open through November 13th.

I was grateful to connect with Nnamdie and some artists and dig a little further into the difficult discourse that Vegyn has drawn out.

Photos Courtesy of anonymous gallery and Shaark Senesac

I’ve heard it said before that great art comes from a place of pain. A debatable concept, no doubt. And speaking to the idea of “health” that this show expands upon, how does each of you define, and balance, physical, spiritual, and mental health with creative health— so to speak? And how does your work in this show relate to that, if at all?

K.O. Nnamdie—Vegyn brings together reflections on seminal issues such as time, beginnings and endings, collapse and renewal. Observing humanity’s concern with the conclusion of mankind, Vegyn poses a fundamental question: how important is it to address the question of “the end” in the context of a contemporary art practice? The social aspect of curating is really important, because meeting Andre Walker was a great inspiration for me. And from him, you come to new ideas and you learn. I always try to work in many chapters, for instance with Colen it’s still kind of ongoing, one thing leads to the other.

Dan Colen— It’s true—we, and I can’t say for certain what the source of great art is. Health and pain are the opposite sides of the same coin—keeping that coin spinning drives my creative process. There is no health without pain—pain is a great motivator and indicator towards health. My own experiences around death and loss have led me into ongoing explorations of the subtle spaces between these two extremes. The Executioner and R-E-S-P-E-C-T, S-P-E-C-T-R-E are some of the manifestations of my meditations on these very ideas.

Darren Bader—Mental and spiritual health vis-a-vis the creative impulse/crutch. I often query myself regarding this (in some way or another). A precarious balance to be sure. I wish I knew how other people functioned, i.e. managed dysfunction. I often feel healthy when I’m creating. I’m just not sure if the feeling is healthy in a broader quotidian context. Pain yes, pleasure yes, art if I’m lucky.

Andre Walker—Well— it’s loaded. God fashion recovery nutrition wellness prayer and meditation continual self analysis and the cycle of existence. I’m not sure if that equates to balancing; more like juggling. Making art is part of the wellness I seek and crave more and more. Dan’s performance and Agathe’s tomatoes jumpsuit conjoined so completely with the work that it became a somewhat meditative experience; much like what many artists prefer when they actually find themselves at work. Dan’s piece was like watching the news or thinking of one’s own life when you finally get the chance to be a peace and get down to work. These moments remark themselves as creative health.

Photos Courtesy of anonymous gallery and Shaark Senesac