Assemblage is all the rage. Objects have been the focus of several exhibitions in Minneapolis for the past year. Objects for Consideration at The Soo Visual Arts Center, Claes Oldenburg’s The Sixties, 9 Artists, and now Jim Hodges Give More Than You Take at the Walker, feature various incantations of the assemblage genre. Artists have been using found objects for a while, but now it seems a bit accelerated, doesn’t it? The bigger question is why? Is this the golden age of assemblage?
Lawrence Weiner’s Bits and Pieces Put Together To Present A Semblance Of A Whole adorned the outside brick wall of The Walker for years. This is the key to unlock the mystery. The current fascination with objects is a reflection of an attention deficit culture dependent on technology, over saturated with images spewing from smartphones, and smart TV’s. Objects and images are appropriated, usually out of context, in hopes to create something new. Is society searching for meaning in the association of combined artifacts, while focusing too much on the nostalgia of the past? As artists present these objects, the common theme is ORDER.
Humans have an inherent need to create order, and things are bit chaotic right now. Perhaps this assemblage outbreak is a reflection of a culture longing to make sense of the new virtual world. Barraged by information spewing from the palms of their hands, the public is saturated with mass waste, mass production, and mass media. Metaphorically, artists are picking up these pieces and attempting to upcycle them in new ways.
Jim Hodges exhibition provides a glimpse as to what might be next with "UNTITLED (ONE DAY IT ALL COMES TRUE), 2013." Hodges has created a majestic cloudburst with sun rays exploding through a mist, spanning across a calm sea. This romantic image recalls The Great Wave from Katsushika Hokusai, and the Anselm Kiefer paintings from the Walker’s permanent collection. The mural is a stitched together monochromatic patchwork quilt made from of every shade of denim known to man. Its monumental size, and the size of the room, makes it impossible not to stop, and put the iPhone in your pocket. The lyrical scraps of denim are at first unrecognizable, and stitched together on this giant scale they transcend their origin.
In the case of 9 artists, and the Soo Visual Arts show, the randomness of the chosen pieces are presented like the remnants of an archeological dig. This sometimes requires the viewer to make and assemble meaning from the random objects; whereas, Hodge’s refined, transcendent use of denim is a far more focused visual in a time already suffering from sensory overload. One material, one color, one image, one room, one statement. Bits and pieces put together to present a semblance of order, in the eye of the storm.
"The Dark Gate" takes Hodges fascination with common materials to it's most successful conclusion. It’s a subtle use of darkness, smell, sharpness, danger, and shape, mixed together in a perfect cocktail. The hangover is long lasting, and it’s impossible to escape unaffected.