On April 30th, 2016, I attended the gallery “Aftercare” by Austyn Taylor at Alfred University. In the artist’s statement, which was written on a piece of paper and displayed at the reception desk, the artist stated that they wanted their pieces to feel honest and disturbing, showing the tragic comedy of being alive.
The entrance of the gallery consisted of many sculpted clay works that were in the shape of melting animal faces. They were made to look like the faces had caved in as the result of the clay itself caving in or as a result of decomposition after the animals had died. Overall, there was quite a disturbing feeling to it.
There was a little chamber that you could walk into which had many geometric triangles pointing at the center of the chamber where you stood, making it feel like a torture chamber filled with spikes that could close in and crush you at any moment. It was also reminiscent of teeth clamping down and killing another creature. It was a great piece that displayed the danger and fragility of life, and how quickly it could be taken away.
Just like the spiked chamber piece, this piece was heavily playing on the fragility of life. The video screen showed the artist stretching a sheet of what seems to be plexiglass with a bungee cord until the sheet shatters under the pressure. Below the video is a platform with what seems to be the shattered remains of the sheet, sparkling and looking quite beautiful in the spotlight. The video appears to have been filmed in this very spot. It’s a great metaphor to how life could have existed in a certain area at one time and the only way that we know that it did is by the beautiful shattered remains it leaves behind. It makes me think of how we discovered that dinosaurs once roamed the Earth through their fossils, even though we have never seen them.