Michael Rees, Clown Town, October 21-November 23, 2016
When looking at Michael Rees’s art many people might be tempted to ask “what is this about?” In Rees’ case the answer is “Who wants to come up on stage and let me guess what’s in your pocket?”
Queue the music! Send in the clowns! In our farcetectural internet saturated times, opinions have the same clown-nose shape form and weight and are equal to every other opinion no matter how scary or banal. This is the farcical neighborhood in Michael Rees’ Clown Town. The exhibition includes big clown shoes, a shooting gallery that sculpts a sculpture, an inkwell monkey head with an alternating sign that says “winner” then "loser," a man in a barrel suit, among other gags. Rees mines the big tent of ideas through a thread of elusive and ineffable Pynchonesque story telling.
Clown Town includes 12 new sculptures in marble, plastic, plaster and aluminum. Each work is supplemented with photographs imbedded with augmented reality technology. Viewers use a tablet app to access the virtual objects, images and animations. The augmented reality aspect adds layers to the sculptures through image triggers. While clowns often prompt uneasy laughter they are a manifestation of our need to test the limits of who we are through play and experiment.
Clown Town is a comedic picaresque mediated by a sculptural interface. Each form contains a juxtaposition of imagery, and augmented reality that plumbs aspects of internet foolishness. The ludic tenor of the works in Clown Town points to anxious times and shifting definitions of the world, while a sense of fatalism in the face of political and economic surrealism suffuses each work. The clown motif is increasingly apt for our hard to swallow era.
This inescapable clownish aura of Rees’s works is felt as variously exuberant, silly, incompetent, abject or grotesque. Clown Town looks into a sculptural condition stuck within a transformative trajectory that takes us from the existential to the artificial. Rees draws viewers through an ideational house of mirrors, deftly shuffling technologies, medias, images and characters while playing in this serious game with one's sense of the real. If you see something say something.