Dreamcatchers

Squash Virus An image can be worth a thousand words, so can an action. You could say that Squash Virus is attractive, that it attracts: four small balls suspended mid air on thin strings just waiting to be touched. Each can be pulled and let go, to bounce back and forth in a kind of diverting, amusing game. For some, the purple coloration of these orbs might suggest a subtle religious connotation. Each also conforms to the medically accepted model of the HIV virus, a widely circulated image that permeates our shared media culture and that many of us have encountered, at least subliminally. So that Squash Virus can also evoke a vague spark of recognition, lodging itself in a slight gap of our consciousness. But, touching it is a different thing altogether.

The surface skin of these small balls exudes febrile unrest. At first seduced, our gaze is later disturbed, pulled away by a murky, slightly noxious haziness that lurks beneath their translucent depths, interrupting aesthetic fulfillment. As inviting as they may seem, each ball is sticky to the touch, and covered with a colony of knobby protrusions, making it awkward to handle and adding an ominous nuance to each, playful swing. It's as if Squash Virus mutates its identity unaccountably, shifting from dreamy, Sci-Fi fantasy to a much less comforting undercurrent that only some will recognize. To a knowledgeable viewer, who recognizes the medical model it represents, Squash Virus is infused with ironic, gallows humor; to an innocent bystander, it may simply seem playfully innocent. And, it is quite harmless, really. It's up to us to call it disturbing, playful, or disturbingly playful it doesn't dictate or impose itself on anyone, nor is it intent on clarifying its own presence. Rather, Squash Virus remains metaphorically reclusive, scrambling its messages, elaborating ambiguity. And, it dares to put us into a situation where we don't even know if we like it or not... does this reflect the complexity of the human reality Squash Virus elliptically touches upon... we'll never know Squash Virus doesn't care to consolidate any panacea pushing political or ideological message in order to affect its public.

What Squash Virus does do, is to invite its public to play. And, in the course of engagement, representational coherence is eclipsed by an obscure metonymic communiqué when the direct physical action of holding, pulling, and letting go of the balls and their bouncing back at their playmate creates its own meaning, its own significance. Whatever we get out of Squash Virus depends on our own personality and our own experience: it depends on a variable, unpredictable and very interdependent dialogue with the artwork, which remains a reclusive foil to the participant's actions, thoughts, imaginings. Squash Virus is an accidental art form, more a performative situation open to the ebb and flow of outside interference and interpretation than anything else. It gains much of its appeal from the elastic manner in which it seems to teeter on the brink of a distinct, even profound significance, only to retreat back into ambiguity. Nothing is quite innocent or harmless in this play between detachment and connection. Our fascination transforms into a more demanding synapse of amenabilities between subject and object, bringing in overtones of interdependency which are employed not to provide a new setting for moralistic or humanistic sublimation, but to afford an opportunity for evoking feeling and imagination and speculation... rhetorics is displaced by participation, representation gives way to anarchy, interaction becomes cathartic. Squash Virus remains conspicuously peripatetic, an ironic... irreverent... sarcastic... jolting... user-friendly... aggressive... weapon... toy... resiliently, bouncing off the surface of each touch, each contact.

Maia Damianovic, New York, 1998

 

resume of the artist

 


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