For a week Eve Sussman and Rufus Corporation were the main event in the Dallas-Fort Worth art scene, evidence of a powerful synergy between area institutions and professionals that has been dynamically building over the past few years. Sussman’s film work 89 Seconds is in a curated show of contemporary work inspired by the Spainish old masters at the Meadows Museum. A version of her/their “algorithmic thriller” White on White was screened at the Fort Worth Modern during the Tuesday night lecture series with a Q & A following. Sussman herself gave a more extensive lecture on her extensive of hybrid work as a part of the SMU Division of Arts Wednesday evening guest lecture series. The sculptural installation Yuri’s Office is currently on display at the Fort Worth Contemporary.
Yuri’s Office is an exacting replica as fragment, of cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin’s 1960’s office. The office itself, currently exists as a tourist attraction/time capsule in Star City, Soviet equivalent to the Johnson Space center. Sussman/Rufus Coroporation created their re-enactment from a casual photograph of the original taken during a research visit for their still in progress tour de force White on White.
The piece sits catty corner in the Fort Worth Contemporary’s storefront windows. It is an island/object, a static thing, a set. You can walk around it. The dusty backside and raw 2 x 4 braces, render its status as object/set more pronounced. The expanse of dark empty gallery space behind the work contributes to a sense of isolation, peculiarity, and confidence. Now we now can orbit the office fragment now moon like with its light and dark sides.
At a certain distance, and from a certain vantage point the replica looks just like the large scale photograph on the right hand wall. It matches: the two telephones, the globe of Mars, the map/wallpaper with creases, sags and tears. Light glows through sheer curtains as if there really is a natural light source shining into the space, casting a gentle glow on the closest surfaces.
On closer inspection, the facsimile disintegrates. The wall map is clearly a digital enlargement of a low resolution source, ditto with the globe. The curtain, assumedly fluid, random, flexible is glued at the top to a hards curved piece of plexiglass, fixing the flow of fabric into a static semi-permanance.
Inside the gallery on the left, barely noticeable is a line of wall text, a quote: “On the twelfth of April, 1961, a Soviet spacecraft called ‘Vostok’ was put into orbit around the earth; and I was aboard.” A single, delicate halogen spot light radiates orbits of light and shadow around the text. The factual, subjective statement, has a fragility, a tenuousness next to these grand reproductions. What happened is overshadowed by our re-enactments and re-creations with all the attending meanings they accumulate. The space race was world news in the 60’s. TV’s all over the globe were tuned in to watch Neil Armstrong make his first steps on the moon. Before him, and before anybody else, Yuri Gagarin circumnavigated the lunar body.
Yuri’s Office operates well at various modes and speeds of reception. My favorite and the most haunting view of the work was through the windows at night. The glow of the office emanates through the wall of storefront glass merging with and, disappearing into the reflections of the strip mall parking lot, and the mexican restaurant across the street. Here is a fragment from Soviet Russia displaced into a late summer Texas evening. How wonderfully strange and sci-fi ordinary, as if we are now inside a Tarkovsky film.