- Pressure InstallationPump Project Art Complex, Austin, TX, USAJanuary 21- February 15, 2012
- We experience pressure acutely. It manifests as a physical, temporal, social, or ideological force. It can lead to utter stagnation or generate the urgency to act. Brooke Gassiot focuses on the more optimistic of these effects, in which pressure stimulates the drive to move, to change, and to create. Here, pressure is a generative force.
In her first large-scale installation, “Pressure,” Gassiot explores the idea symbolically. A constructed, billowing cloud of steam surges upward to the ceiling, pouring unexpectedly from a vintage console television. On the screen cycles a video loop of a tea kettle gradually heating and steaming. Instead of the tea kettle’s piercing whistle, however, we hear the din of voices, specifically, reporters’ voices, rising and falling in tandem with the kettle’s release. The media theme continues in the steam, which is a papier-mâché sculpture crafted from strips of newspaper. Here is the social and ideological pressure, those outside messages that come together as so muchnoise. Elsewhere in the space is heard a steady drip-drip-drip, which emanates from a contained projection of just that: dripping water.
“Pressure” is an expansion of Gassiot’s work in light boxes. Each of her light boxes is a singular environment, lit from within by its own, obscured light source. The boxes stimulate in the viewer the desire to access their multi-layered recesses. The lighting is such that it highlights the tactile qualities of fur, fabric, and other mixed media, but that accessibility is an illusion. It is sensation abstracted: viewed, imagined, but ultimately undelivered and undeliverable. Each time, the viewer is barred by the physical limits of the box and by the glass membrane that separates this world from that.
Though “Pressure” finally grants the viewer access to an environment, it is not without denial. Projecting into the installation space is a dimensional portal. Constructed of acrylic glass, the portal is an elongated box through which we might glimpse an unattainable space on the other side of a solid wall. Through this window is visible a moist and leafy environment. Its foliage is dark, like the forest floor beneath a thick canopy. There is a pervasive sense of wetness in this verdant space. Surely, the air would be humid and earthy. By contrast, the water elsewhere in the installation is water that neither quenches nor sustains. It only steams or drips. Yet, beyond this window is a fertile space. It might be the ideal growth that pressure yields, if only we could reach it.
-Kim Dolan, Arts Writer, Austin, TX
- What are you scared of?Media? Pressure?
The pressures of media?
Listen: I'm posing you no more threat
than a soft floor of moss leading
into a wild wood of green and shadow.
All I'm doing here,
at the edge of this blogpost,
is pointing out a thing that
will make your dark day brighter
or add a sweet touch of darkness to
whatever's just a bit Too Damned Bright
in the waking hours of your life right about now.
Never mind the rest of Brooke Gassiot's installation,
a multimedia grouping of work called "Pressure,"
now on display at Pump Project until February 15th.
Never mind the big central piece that required, we imagine,
most of the project's Kickstarter funds to be completed.
Yes, it has resonances for a hundred MFA theses built into it,
just waiting to be unpacked by budding young art scholars,
and it's an impressive structure that starts with a refurbished mid-century TV console on the floor
and ends with huge papier-mâché and tulle representations of steam in the rafters.
But, no, I said never mind that.
What kind of wild animal are you that you
don't do whatever some blogwriter tells you?
Are you a wolf, is that it?
Are you a – listen, don't mind the lightboxes, either.
Don't mind the two lightboxes, more like Gassiot's usual work,
that comment on the installation as a whole even while displayed as part of the installation itself.
No, wolf, I said never mind those.
Jesus. Could you possibly be more fucking undomestic?
Don't mind those things,
don't pay attention to those things,
nor to the clever sculpture that Gassiot has added to the Pump Project's actual pump.
We're not here for that.
Other places will feature reviews about all of "Pressure," you can be sure;
there may eventually be more learned explication than anyone, even the artist,
can bear, because there's a lot going on in the show and yadda yadda yadda.
We're here because, look,
there's one work within the installation that you really need to see.
That you should just drive on down to Pump Project to see –
you are a driving wolf, right? – before the show closes.
Just – damn it, wolf, stop looking at those other bits –
just check out that large, clear, acrylic enclosure jutting from the far wall.
Look at the small wolves within that enclosure, suspended above the gallery floor,
standing at the edge of a floor of moss, of greenery, of wilderness that continues on,
growing wider and wilder, until it goes all the way through the wall
and scatters into verdant chaos in the shadows on the other side.
Look at it, wolf.
Look at it and howl for a feeling so well captured,
for a perfectly rendered vision never to leave your memory,
for the ability to see such things in the heart of this urban sprawl
in which we, resolutely wild or resignedly tamed, live and breathe.
Howl and howl and howl and howl.