Acknowledgment: This, along with three other reviews, was originally published by Glasstire. Here it is unedited and separate from the others.
I wasn’t able to make it out to the opening for this show and the following week was Easter, then I worked the next time gallery hours were held. So the show was up for a good three weeks before I had a chance to visit. In that time, I read the interview of the collaborators on …might be good. The concept of collaborating with the institution that invited you to collaborate with someone else sounded like a cop-out. Like a very academic exercise in conceptualism. But I’m curious to see how I experience it.
I finally make my way into the gallery and the space. Exercise #2 is displayed in the foyer and to the right, located in the living room area of the house (Hey, isn’t Testsite Austin’s original gallery in a home? If not, I think it’s the oldest still in operation.), is the main gallery and Excercise #1. Books are displayed throughout the room on shelves at about waist height. These books are opened to their acknowledgements page. In the back corner sit a small group of poster/paintings wrapped and placed against each other so that only the backs are visible through the enveloping plastic. On the center coffeetable, stacks of books are treated the same. Even though it is a living room of a house, it feels like a white box. Risa Puleo comes down to welcome me as she begins her docent duties.
Ms. Puleo begins to describe the exhibit. I listen politely as she goes through her schpeel, for the umpteenth time I imagine. What could she possibly be selling if nothing is for sale in this experimental space? Almost verbatim from the website and the interview, I listen about the collaboration between Ursula Davila Villa and Carla Herrerra-Pratt and how they decided upon turning the mirror on Testsite and Fluent Collaborative through the use of Lawrence Weiner. In a serendipitous series of events, Lawrence Weiner becomes the catalyst to discussing and exposing the relationships of collaborators and the collaborators of this project.
I sat chatting with Ms. Puleo without knowing who Lawrence Weiner was and then as if sensing my opinion of the exhibit coming into focus, she tells me who he was and what he practiced. Snap! My comparison of the open books to R2-D2 as he projects the hologram of Princess Leia gains another level of justification. By pointing them out, the acknowledgements of both Lawrence Weiner and Ms. Villa & Ms. Herrerra-Pratt become visible and thus more real.
The portraits that I created in the space were fuzzy like the Leia hologram, but understanding the Lawrence Weiner connection brought it into better reception. I enjoyed the mental exercise, but wondered who outside the academic audience would find it as amusing.
I’ll tell you ’bout what I sees.