Jay Erker: Living Together

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This doesn’t mean as much as you might think; or it could mean a lot, if you want it to.

It’s been awhile since I have written anything so I really have to bite into this one. Literally. I bit into the wall of Jay Erker’s show. I left my bottom teeth marks on the outside of a small window cut-out and the impression of my top teeth on the inside. I could sense what she wanted: for me to not be afraid of doing what I felt like doing. I shouldn’t be uncomfortable, or feel like I didn’t belong. Therefore, there was no reason to act accordingly, as in the way I felt I needed to act at the previous four galleries I had visited earlier that day. I sank my teeth into the wall where images had been sketched by the artist and other patrons who attended the opening. I was surprised by the near lack of bathroom humor; given the artist’s anarchistic and gratifyingly crude behavior. There was some though. The other opening is a dick fest, someone scribbled confidently. Eat Pray Love, wrote another. The latter was less offensive, but perhaps that’s because I haven’t seen the end of the movie and sadly I’ve been to plenty of dick fests.

Moments after sitting down with Jay, with her magnetic disposition and a demeanor that fluctuates between extremely serious and socially-conscious and carefree, articulate and bad ass (I am not sure if those are even opposites), we were drinking whiskey and talking inconclusively about community in relation to our art practices. She is studying to become a therapist. I fingered through the numerous handmade books filled with small paintings, collages of various media, photograms, and manifesto-like declarations as Erker excitedly described the process of giving each artist the roughly-cut stacks of cardboard and receiving them back profusely original. The room begged for adolescent mischief, with chalk laid out for use, a record spinning, and markers to draw on clothes that could be left behind or taken away. I asked her if she thought I was capable of walking through one of the large face sculptures she had made without knocking it over. With only the slightest hesitation she dared me to try. I bent down in an awkward position, but stopped myself. Moments earlier she had shown me three similar pieces toppled over in the back room—results of other dissidents responding too aggressively to the inviting nature of the show. I sat back down in one of the curiously sturdy cardboard chairs at the precarious cardboard table.

The books and objects and makeshift walls throughout the show had either been manipulated or completely transformed before or after the exhibition opened. Everything was shared, used, or made from recycled materials. The room was smartly playful and felt finished, even in its evolutionary state; lush and not tied down by a simple game of group dynamics, it told a tale of a happening, still happening. Erker made “Telephones” and then gave them to collaborators such as Habib Kheradyar Zamani, who chose not to change his but rather write an in-depth formal analysis that (perhaps) recapitulated the show in its entirety. In the last paragraph, Zamani wrote, “What is the meaning of this freestanding triangle prism? Its craftsmanship is subordinate to the meaning it suggests, therefore adding a casualness, lightheartedness, gentleness to its psychological intent.” Mark Flores and Karen Lofgren’s telephone collaboration with Erker is an idyllic version of what could be the result if the three artists’ work were to fuck in the back of a pick-up truck, conceive a child and raise him intelligently.

After being fooled earlier in the day by Ricky Swallows’ trompe l’oeil bronzed casts of cardboard and toilet paper roll sculptures at David Kordansky Gallery, I thought, now I am in the real thing. This recycled, used, stomped on, preserved, conjured up, seemingly haphazardly thrown together, yet thoughtfully organized thing. This lying, two-faced, trick-me-into-coming-here, yet, wait—step back, everything’s okay, feel and touch the real thing. This Conglomerate of Caring, Comforting, but Contradictory Conscious Comrades type of thing. This Optimistically Original and Obscure Omnipresent Oeuvre type of thing. This Materialized and Misunderstood Mesh of Melancholic Messes type of thing. This Moving Majestic Mother type of thing. This Unwavering and Unflappable Utilitarian Unit type of thing. This Nasty Naïve Nebula of Niceties type of thing. This Inclusive and Intimate Imperfect Irresistible Island of Insurance type of thing. This Tenaciously Temporal, Transformed and Titillating Threshold of Tomorrow type of thing. This isn’t an un-Yielding, Yearning of Yesterday’s Yore type thing. It’s a living together at its core type of thing. It’s a Committed, Occupied, Marvelous, Manifold, Unconditional, Novel, Intrinsically, Truly, Yours type of thing.

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Photo credit John Pearson & Jay Erker

Jay Erker: Living together closes this Saturday October 10th. Closing Reception is from 2-6pm at Eastside International (ESXLA)

For more Jay Erker (click here)

1 Comment

  1. Excellent review David Bell. I appreciate your playing with the work and with your words.
    Keeping it yours.

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