An Art-Saturated Photographer, Blown Away – Literally – By An Installation In West Dallas

As a photographer of art in its various forms, Art Fair week was exceptionally busy. I had planned on starting to shoot the Dallas Biennale for the Contemporary mid-fair, but as that time approached I had reached my limit and the last thing I wanted was to see was more art. Nevertheless, I slogged out to 331 Singleton, a space I knew from prior art installations, the most recent being one of the locations of the Shepard Fairey murals.  Not knowing many of the artists participating in the biennale I wasn’t sure what to expect from Delphine Reist. All I knew was that the building was in a state of disrepair—a kind of antithesis of the clean and sanitary art fair happening a couple of miles away.

As I entered the space, the attendant asked if I wanted earplugs.  I imagined the well-styled art fair crowds trying to converse with nuggets of orange foam stuffed in their ears. I took them and followed the attendant into the next room. Said room was filled with what looked like paraphernalia from a backyard barbecue, complete with lawn chairs and coolers, except the coolers had car horns attached. The attendant pushed a button and a tune played with a blast of sound that truly demanded the earplugs. I couldn’t help but laugh.

In another room the artist had set up a shelving unit full supplies that could have been used for installation or cleaning. Nothing seemed out of place from the front, but as I ventured around the object it appeared that some sort of chemical explosion had taken place. Various candy-colored substances had sprayed across the floor and hardened into Jackson Pollock streams. I began to feel as if I were investigating a crime scene, looking at my feet and noticing bullet shells. Upstairs, the installation was a bit more playful including what looked like a NASCAR boardroom meeting and a small room with floor buffer bumper cars dancing to their own tune.

To some extent, the show reminded me of Maximum Overdrive, a film preoccupied with man-made objects taking over the world set to a bitchin’ AC/DC sound track. There is a slight element of danger in many of the pieces, and regardless of my exhaustion, this installation became the best thing I had seen all weekend. I keep telling people they need to see this work. I can’t help but reiterate that here.

To read Ben Lima’ s review of the Dallas Biennale, go here.

Photo by Kevin Todora