Gaucha Berlin and Langley: Your Silence Speaks Volumes at Fort Gondo
Your Silence Speaks Volumes has the lure of a private space, like a partially occluded window. The collaborative exhibition by Gaucha Berlin and Langley invites the public into what appears to be a space designed by and for the same person—perhaps someone who needs reassurance and operates on fragile self-worth. One collage, for example, exclaims at head height that “you’re unique,” on a bed of scrap paper occluded by opalescent gloss and faux-pearls. Not incidentally, the scrap paper shows through with an advertisement of meat products including what looks like a big sausage and a steak. That peek-through mysterious amalgamation of meats intended for inexpensive consumption that is sausage seems related to the usage of collaged newspaper parts throughout the show: clippings containing not news but entertainment and advertisement, intended for joyful consumption without critique—all the more hazardous for being disguised. Or so the show seems to imply, by infesting what appears to be a sheltered space with fragments of the outside world.
As those culture scraps start to operate like stuffing, they fall in line with a series of small printed images that pepper the exhibition, such as three little stars that appear repeatedly and a little drawing of a standing dog on the glass by the doorknob into the gallery. These and other esoteric markings, along with the not “untitled” but literally un-titled nature of all the pieces in the show reinforce my feeling that the space is full of signs I’m not supposed to be in on (with the exception of a makeshift shrine to Mother Mary whose communicative potential probably suffers from my more specific ignorance).
That said, the show is a construction of privacy, like a novel structured like a diary rather than an actual diary. With two chairs, a stool, a record player and a dresser with the aforementioned Mary shrine on top, the practical uses of these objects are subverted to create a place that refers only to the domestic, just as it refers only to the private. The chairs are on peculiar pedestals, the record player and the record inside it collaged over with advertisements. In the illusion of an isolated space, the invisible public and its history infiltrates with slippery influence.
The focal point of the show, a chair re-imagined as a game of ring-toss, moves slightly away from the political, highlighting a more personal conflict with power. The chair sits on a pedestal, framed on the wall behind it by brown and yellow wallpaper, golden yellow curtains and a dirty round mirror. In pairing with small prints of crowns on the wallpaper the basic wooden chair becomes a throne on a stage—with a game of ring toss poking out of its center. Performer and audience are one: if you choose to play the game, the round mirror on the wall gives you a direct view to your own face. Alternatively, a more traditional usage of the chair would engage its masturbatory potential. This installation may be a meditation on how to occupy yourself when you’re alone, but in alluding to power it implies the impossibility of detaching a private gaze from a public one.
Your Silence Speaks Volumes is on view at Fort Gondo, in St. Louis, MO through October 1st, 2011.