Chicago Art Review


No More Perfect Moments @ Scott Projects by Steve Ruiz
September 4, 2009, 6:32 pm
Filed under: Openings, Reviews

The latest show at Scott Projects represents Baltimore’s second featured incursion into Chicago, but while NAH POP NO STYLE brought the painters, Brad Troemel‘s brought the photographers. And punk archivists. Okay, maybe just one photographer and one punk archiver, but they’re definitely from Baltimore and their work is definitely in Chicago and their names are Justin Kelly and Andrew Laumann respectively and their show is called No More Perfect Moments.

Scott Projects

Scott Projects

Justin Kelly’s work is locked on the point of intersection between disaster and entertainment. His three digital/found photo grids pictured below aren’t all images of disasters, but they feel like it. Most are harmless scenes of controlled danger – roller coasters, fireworks, shark tanks, etc – but throw in the occassional flaming Ferrari and the potential for disaster present in every photo is suddenly engaged, as if the next and last photo on digicam would surely be the spiderweb cracks in the shark tank.

Justin Kelly

Justin Kelly

Justin Kelly

Justin Kelly

With this mixture of potential and realized violence, Kelly turns every image into a bomb. His video installation, a large wide shot of a shark tank with tourists marveling at the bottom, makes for a frightening example of the proximity between danger and delight. The work has suspense and beauty, all bathed in the false coral sand blues of an artificial beach.

Justin Kelly

Justin Kelly

Andrew Laumann’s work came off less about us as himself, an inward facing archive of a former punk life. There are a lot of items to examine, everything from tarred kicks to an unwound Nirvana cassette to a couple rusting nails. Mixed with these are plenty of photographs, some found and some larger digital prints but most disposible camera snapshots of anonymous friends, each neatly framed.

Andrew Laumann

Andrew Laumann

The work came at me in two ways and I never was able to decide which was more important. On one hand, Laumann’s work could easily read as a bunch of shit from his apartment that had been hung cleanly on gallery walls, each item serving as a relic of a punk rock history traded for something more modern and aware. Equally possible, the work could represent a false history or an engineered display, with objects and items included to stand for the multitude of similar stuff from the era that could be honored in the same way our parents might cling to the relics of their 1960’s and 70’s past, but which we (and I use that word broadly) don’t consider as significant.

Andrew Laumann

Andrew Laumann

While neither interpretation make ups for the general blandness of the actual work, I’d prefer to think of its conceptual thrust as the latter, a critique on a generation’s apathy toward its moment of cultural definition. Then again, the spirit of the era may have been apathy itself, so its possible that in rejecting our history we may be sticking to its character. Laumann may have been anticipating the critical question of whether to throw away your Gang of Four albums or play them for your kids.

Andrew Laumann

Andrew Laumann

As a name for the show, No More Perfect Moments does a good job of knitting the fireball potential of Justin Kelly’s work with the anti-nostalgia of Andrew Laumann’s, but thought the two have apparently been collaborating for some time, they don’t seem to overlap much beyond geography. Still, Kelly’s video pieces create a very effective and anxious impression and Laumann’s installed works present a good conversational topic, so it’d be a good show to catch before every gallery in the world has their opening next Friday.

I give it a:

6.5

No More Perfect Moments runs August 29th through September 11th at Scott Projects, 1542 N. Milwaukee, Apt. #3.

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