Here They Are
Space and Resistance at They Won't Find Us Here
They seem, frankly, a little bemused – a little surprised that we have chosen them, as wary of us as we are wary of misrepresenting their space, their mission, their marginality and their youth.
They are Emily Atchison, Jennifer Hedrich, Kelsey Olson, Lauren Allshouse and Matt Lawler, and they ask to be called “co-curators” of their space.[i] I am trying to avoid describing their beautifully open young faces (see how condescending that sounds?) and focus on the space – real, tangible, incontestable space. Art gallery as urban garden – separate yet inseparable from everyday life. Or is it art gallery as mother-in-law? Atchison tells me that the five have no ambitions to make money from the space, but she would be uncomfortable tying that decision to a wider philosophy. “Each individual has their own convictions about the relation of money to art practice. I wouldn’t want to impose my own beliefs on the space.”
Back to the space, then. It’s a space my own mother would have called a “mother-in-law” apartment, the space above the garage. Think of mothers in law; invoke a cavalcade of stand up comedians: their jokes[ii]. Put her above the garage. Now substitute the arts. The family is our whole upended society: Mother-in-law as weaving on the wall, held up by a tiny nail.
Stop, erase that image. It’s not like that at all. It’s like Michel de Certeau said in The Practice of Everyday Life. One’s mother-in-law being absent, or more accurately, not yet present, the space of her apartment can lie empty or it can be deployed as a “tactic.” The co-curators were once roommates in the house at 3500 South Bryant, and this was their use of the extra space above the garage. And yet the name of the gallery playfully resists flaneurship. Who are we hiding from.
Oh shut up, you vulgar Marxist, you lapsed bricoleur of idiosyncratic cartographies[iii]. Leave your theories at home and come to the space. Feel its betweenness and resist the urge to explain. Just describe: Here! This thing is unfinished. That’s kind of by design, I mean more or less. A hole in the floorboards, the smell of a recent rain that had exposed the leaks in the roof, light from bulbs and a chandelier that hung like lanterns from a low ceiling, fighting the daylight which poured in from a window. A blistering hot day. Maybe rain later. On another window, the manifesto of the event. Something about weaving, discovery, workshop. You need not subscribe to observe, but beware the two-sidedness of that word: observe.
“This Loom is a Pipe Bomb” reads a disarmingly unradical looking piece of equipment. A tip jar, (This Tip Jar is a Pipe), collects the only money for the events. That money goes to buy snacks for the next opening. “If we wanted to put up drywall in there, I mean we could easily do that,” says Lawler.
Atchison: But we’re not sure how long we’ll have this space. It’s a temporary space.
Allshouse: And that’s part of what makes it work. The art is foremost.
And so whatever art comes, whatever use of the space, the art will never hang to serve the gallery. Because there is no gallery tomorrow. It is today only. If you’re reading this on its date of publication, you have just missed the installation by Robin Cotton, (yesterday). But soon comes the next one. An international artist, another first for the gallery. Which is really cool, and you should check it out. I checked in there on Foursquare.
[i] (To be fair, Atchison wrote an excellent article for the April issue of Quodlibetica, but this write-up is no quid pro quo).
[ii] Q: What do you do if you miss your mother-in-law?? A: Reload, and try again. (anonymous, mother-in-law-jokes.com)
[iii] Watch for our cartographies issue, coming in October.
1) The Co-Curators.
2) They Won’t Find Us Here Gallery. Photo by author.
3) Anonymous, Untitled. Wooden loom and unfinished weaving.