Review By David F Bown
Between Shakespeare and SpongeBob: Seth Mittag at Lawndale.
It is a disaster, better, the leftovers strewn on stage, pedestal and wall mounted images that comprise Seth Mittag’s uproarious portion of the current show at Lawndale Art Center are nature’s catalogue of hurt, the family album of the unfortunate; it is thewishing always to be someplace else while the storm rages. It is us and there we are watching the singing chicken dance his big bucks offer to rebuild your dream in the hurricane belt. It is skillfully handcrafted: a double wide bent around a savaged tree, the better portion of a school bus on concrete blocks and a mattress inside, the weather map from Channel 25, Bob Six-pack as everyman posted at the screen with remote and tracking the eye of the storm. It is mimesis to scale but it is not a story; the narrative lies broken in the rubble even when viewers think they know the guy who lives in the trailer or the transient camping in the school bus. The story is manifestly and impossibly broken, repeated, scattered, parodied and hung out to dry before your very eyes. We create our own catastrophes. The wealth of the nation headed to the landfill; the pick up of pain parked in the shade full of the fruits of disaster planning, readiness alerts and HOMELAND security rendered real and unreliable. Ain’t nothin gonna stop the shit headed our way and these characters know. Aristotle says tragedy is the imitation of morally serious action, where ordinary people are placed in extraordinary circumstances, and then shows how the consequences flow inevitably from that action. So this work is an American tragedy, a natural disaster. If metaphor is, as William H. Gass, suggests “to move to a strange place”, then Mittag’s tragedy is the mobile home heart of the nation caught between history and a hard place. I was blown away by this work; that it is first rate, there is no doubt in my mind, that its message slaps viewers in the face, true, and that its subtle metaphors of survival might give us hope, I am sure. These are the consequences, American consequences, and you ought to go rubber neck at wreckage as the genuine emblem of history.
Slide Jam Yo! Come to the CAM and hear me talk!
Installation at Rice University
Come see the installation at Rice University!
The show will be open from 9/29 till 10/29 and is located upstairs in the Rice Gallery.
Miniature Golf at Discovery Green !!
Jason Makepeace and I were recently asked to design a miniature golf hole for Discovery Green.