On Chapels, Caves and Erotic Misery
Sculpture/installation constructed using 500 4’x8’ sheets of cardboard, carpet, 7 etched black mirrors, 21 hand-made lamps, 47 architectural models, 16 doors, fluorescent light, dimensions variable
The evolution of this work was the sculpting of a five-act play, and On Chapels, Caves and Erotic Misery is the fifth act. This evolution began in reference to the David Lynch film Blue Velvet (1986), and earlier versions of the work also make explicit reference to Kurt Schwitters' Merzbau. This elaborate and sprawling installation is constructed almost entirely of cheap, ephemeral materials such as cardboard and paper, and it meticulously reconstructs parts of the film Blue Velvet in real space exploring the ability of architectural fragments to convey cinematic narrative. The work delves into and explores the challenge of superimposing one space and structure onto another: the first, artificially woven together through film editing; the second, a totalizing structure defined by the walls and activities of the exhibition space. Both structures dissolve in their collision, leading to a third reality, which is a thematic structure in itself. The installation begins in a dark anteroom that leads to a pitch-black hallway with backlit glass screens showing phrases from Blue Velvet and other poetic references. The hallway leads to a neutral gray carpeted room with nearly thirty doors, some that open and some that do not, one of which leads to an immaculate white passage lit overhead by eerily bright fluorescent lights. From there, one must pass back through the gray-carpeted room full of doors to find one’s way, and the sheer number of doors creates the necessity to loop back, evoking flashbacks or the feeling of a video loop, before finding the way into a final room. It holds shelves of various table lamps, but the dominant elements here are elaborate small-scale movie sets in boxes, some stacked on one another, portraying scenes from Blue Velvet. On Chapels, Caves and Erotic Misery engages the mechanisms of enduring cinematic power—editing and scene-setting—and makes these processes become physical as if by placing the viewer inside and outside of the film at the same time.