Sunday, July 13, 2008

Bruce Busby at SMMoA (Project Room I)

Filter Tent #BMCD900, 2006
Nylon fabric, fiberglass poles, silicone rubber, 5 x 5 x 4 feet

You Won't Find These at REI...

Summer is in full swing. One of my guilty pleasures during these especially hot months, involves escaping the traffic jams, smog and tourists, and beginning plans for a quaint over night camping trip in the mountains. I am one of those people that is absolutely enthralled by California's pristine and seductive landscapes. For me, there's nothing more incredible than sleeping under the stars and waking up to the chirping of birds at 5:30 a.m. Okay, so maybe not the bird-chirping part, but you know what I mean. I know that for some of you, spending quality time in the great outdoors is just not your cup of tea. Well, for all you "urban" campers out there, head on over to SMMoM to see (and experience) Bruce Busby's Creativity Enhancement Shelters. In his first museum show, Bruce Busby: Super Faulty Reconfiguration at Bergamot Station in Santa Monica, Busby offers you a sheltering and meditative experience that doesn't involve rubbing two sticks together.

Upon entering the gallery, you're greeted by several mesh, tent-inspired structures that capture your attention from first glance. Busby describes these works as "cutting-edge teepees," which is quite an understatement if you ask me. They're more than just cutting edge, they're not of this world! These metaphysical mesh and nylon structures range in size and adorn the floor, ceiling and wall spaces of the gallery. You can even crawl into one of them -- just take off your shoes, please. They seem to offer you a unique escape from the confines of the modern world. The works conceptually echo the architectural tradition of a sacred space, like a mosque, Buddhist temple or church.

Filter Tent #BMCD900 (Detail), 2006
Nylon fabric, fiberglass poles, silicone rubber 5 x 5 x 4 feet

Busby's work is based on the premise that "there are impurities and 'inhabitants' in our atmosphere that cause creative blockage, frustration, inefficiency, and confusion." These shelters are meant to serve as refuges from the turmoil of our daily lives, fine-tuning the various components of your inner-being back into spiritual equilibrium. Busby's ideas are validated by the notion that these shelters are not just museum objects, but are actually fully-functioning items that could be used on a day-to-day basis. The objects and its various components are also completely collapsible and transportable. Imagine your boss' reaction when you mention that you are starved for inspiration, so you begin popping up one of these Creativity Enhancement Shelters in your office or cubicle (I could have definitely used one of these in my work space a few months back, that's for sure). The genius of these objects lies not only with just viewing them in a museum setting, but also pulling them out of a controlled gallery environment and assigning it a true utilitarian duty.

CRIMP #JHQNY804 (Creativity Impairment Plume), 2004
Charcoal pencil on paper 6 x 6 feet

The structures are complemented by a series of large-scale drawings of clouds of contamination rising from the actual fault lines of the San Francisco Bay and Los Angeles areas. The images are meant to serve as visual reminders of why such shelters are necessary, conveying the idea that both beauty and danger can be found in California's unique topography.

It's perfect timing that an exhibition like this is going on at the same time as the Lautner exhibition, as both impart strong messages of sheltering and nurturing the individual. My Lautner post should be up in a few days, at which point I'll elaborate further on how these two exhibitions are differnt, yet intersect in a very intriguing way.

The exhibition is on view at the Santa Monica Museum of Art from May 24th-August 9th, 2008; 2525 Michigan Avenue, Santa Monica; Open Tuesday to Friday 11 a.m. - 6 p.m., Saturday 11 a.m. - 8 pm; Closed Sundays, Mondays, and all legal holidays; (310) 586-6488; $5 suggested donation.