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Artist duo’s ‘sensuous now’ will get under your skin at Pop Up

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Cathy Fairbanks’ “Sleeping Bags” presents two sleeping bags lovingly stitched in swirling methodical zigzags that pucker and manipulate them in such a way as to subtly suggest the curve of a recently vacated body.
Photo: Marcos Rivera

There’s a variety of everyday magic that draws the senses into focus—a sound or maybe an action that aligns the body and mind into full and complete attentiveness. Worries about tomorrow or regretful yesterdays fall away, and for an instant we are utterly present in time. The sound of a zipping jacket. The act of washing dishes. The touch of a dog’s cold wet nose. It can be a quick snap-to or a slow slip out of oblivion and into a sensuous now.

A preoccupation with this kind of “there-ness” permeates Pop Up Art House’s About the Thing and the Thing Itself, an installation by Californians Cathy Fairbanks and Laura Boles Faw, under the collaborative name ap-art-ment.

The Details

About the Thing and The Thing Itself
four stars
Through November 12; Tuesday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-2 p.m. (and by appointment), free
Pop Up Art House, 730 W. Sunset Road, 323-240-2888.

The pair primarily investigates the very nature of collaboration. A quick and dirty read of the installation almost theatrically illustrates this creative conversation, symbolically played out in a series of pairings that crescendo in Fairbanks’ “Sleeping Bags.” The sculpture presents two sleeping bags lovingly stitched in swirling methodical zigzags that pucker and manipulate the sacks in such a way as to subtly suggest the curve of a recently vacated body. The bags are inverted and upright, resting atop two mannequins, facing one another in stilted exchange. The collusion is echoed by the proximity of Faw’s haunting “Part 1,” two prints of two drawings of crumpled blank paper, specimens of (or placeholders for) exchange between the artists themselves.

Don’t let the veneer of duality fool you: The heart of About the Thing is its vigorous simultaneity. Faw and Fairbanks function alongside one another, two coins spinning rather than two sides of the same coin.

In this interrogative dialogue, moments of precision seem to pinpoint instances of connectivity, but oddly those seem to happen most successfully independent of one another. An exhilarating “there-ness” is present in Fairbanks’ “The Drawing of Force,” purses made of deployed vehicle airbags, and the gorgeous fetish-finish infinity of dog snouts in Faw’s “Smelt Out” would give a Zen Buddhist a run for her money in its sensorial celebration of the Now. While interesting, collaborative pieces like the drawings in “Myth” footnote the mysterious alchemy of the solo work of these two artists viewed in proximity, a more fascinating chess game. As articulated in About the Thing, one artist is always a ghostly presence in the best of the other’s work.

Faw’s “Props” beautifully sums up the open-ended precision of About the Thing. Two unidentifiable, vaguely nonfunctional pink tools lean against mirrors, pinning them to the wall. The point of touch is also a point of departure, an ending and a beginning: acute, precarious and sure. Ap-art-ment’s most lucid instances of collaboration emerge in the present tense, a space-gap of pure potential.

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Danielle Kelly

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