ANNOUNCEMENT: One Review a Month is going on a semi-permanent hiatus. This is the last post One Review a Month will make for an undisclosed length of time. I have taken on some other projects. One is a mystery until further notice and the other is writing art reviews once a month for the Citypaper. See the first one here.
Scott Kip has lived on the top floor of 319 N 11th St (often referred to in colloquial slang as “The Vox Building”) for years–way before any of the galleries that are there now took up residence in the place. He keeps bees up there on the top floor with him– and a talking parrot. I once rode the elevator of 319 down alongside him while he was wearing a tuxedo. He was on his way to the Masonic Temple to attend a meeting. Scott Kip has been basically inhabiting the inside of the giant organ at Macy’s for years, a thing that is so large it takes up rooms of pipes and wooden parts, and most closely resembles the galley of an impossible pirate ship. It is his job to keep the organ working, conserving small wooden piece upon small wooden piece in a process that is never ending.
Scott Kip’s life is poetry, and so are the things he creates.
Marginal Utility is currently sectioned off into three smallish gallery spaces and in each “room” there sits some architecture in miniature.
Each architectural construct is reminiscent of industry, and rendered out of wood in bland colors (grey, black–perhaps some brown).
In the first room the architecture is labeled “Past, Present, Future” and it most closely resembles three towers with a conveyor belt or railroad line on the ground in between each one. The towers, maybe two feet high themselves, are displayed on a single line on a pedestal that puts the middle of them at about the height of a human. At the end of the line on each end are larger towers (“Past” and “Future”) of the exact same altitude and shape, equidistant between the two is what reads as a support tower (the “Present”)–smaller and less elaborate in shape then the others. Stretched between the towers is a length of red thread, that is almost impossible not to read as either the sight of a laser gun or some sort of pulley system used for an undefined purpose. The thread is not moving and yet seems to imply a sort of quick-constant-motion.
In the second chamber, the work is again named after aspects of time “Past, Present, Future”, the assembly is similar but more elaborate and a bit bigger.
The final room houses another “Past, Present, Future” in which each tower is given a separate pedestal and more space. The middle tower has become a sort of house on stilts and inside it is the mechanism of a clock you can hear ticking and yet can only see in a shadow projected below the building. The end towers now use a system of mirrors to reflect the image of a labyrinth obscured from actual perception by the architecture of the form.
In order of importance if I had to name the sensory perceptions they would be: wood, solemn, mystery, grey, red, and ticking.
Into the world of perpetual solitude
To describe Scott’s work in the first sentence of the section of this writing entitled “Illuminated Structures”, I used the word ‘miniature’. I felt the need to use this designation because this is the term often used to describe models of architecture in an artistic setting– but I do not think Mr. Kip’s work is anything like a miniature. You do not look at it and admire the novelty of the smallness, instead you look at it and promptly displace yourself inside the architecture. In your head you are standing on the ground before the tower (“Past” or “Future”) or you are inside the middle construct with the ticking clock (“Present”), you are looking out that window and seeing the other towers.
I think this is accomplished by the spatial interaction the viewer has with each sculpture. You walk around the pedestal. You look between each tower. You try very hard to see what has been obstructed from your line of sight.
Go, go, go, said the bird: human kind Cannot bear very much reality.
“Illuminated Structures” has been the title of at least three bodies of work by Scott Kip, including this one.
Each exhibition has been inspired by the poem “Burnt Norton” the first section of “Four Quartets” written by T.S. Elliot. The poem itself was named for a ruined country house in Gloucestershire and is concerned with time as an abstract principal. If I had not known that this poem inspired the work, and not being a student of poetry in general, I would have never guessed and would not have needed the reference. I admire the single-minded obsession.
The works of Scott Kip bring to my mind the paintings of early 20th century American Modernists such as Charles Sheeler and Charles Demuth. His work evokes a little of the writings of Ayn Rand, not that his work agrees with her philosophy– but that it might exist in her world and be lovingly described there. Also evinced in no certain order might be the writings of Franz Kafka, the movies of Terry Gilliam, the video game “Myst”, and H.G. Wells’ “The Time Machine”.
There is, in the air surrounding each sculpture an atmosphere that is ominous and stifling, as if these are the monuments to a greater god then the one we currently believe in but will nonetheless judge us.
This work was also reviewed by Daniel Gerwin for Title Magazine.