Rachael Pantuso

A Chaotic Placement of Art:

A review of This is beyond insane. This is babel. by ALAS

There is a certain excitement inherent to entering a gallery in which the title of the current exhibition is the only information known. Therefore, I find this exhibition name a crucial aspect because it is the first encounter visitors have. Upon entering, This is beyond insane. This is babel, and taking note of the first details and works, questions – similar to, “Who is ALAS? What is their artistic motive?”– begin to have answers.

The information given on the exhibition label briefly informed visitors of the San Antonio based collaborative, ALAS’s, history. These two artists combine unrelated ideas, and experiment using rural objects relevant to their rural lifestyle(s). The space worked in their favor because the large gallery welcomed exploration by giving visitors ample room to walk. While beginning with Gallery I, my curiosity heightened upon seeing markers scattered on the floor along with drawings, apparently created by visitors, because their context did not match the gallery works. The artists had provided markers therefore inviting viewers to use them to draw or write freely on the provided parchment paper scattered on the floor. This gesture was appealing because the suggestion engages the audience as opposed to just strolling through. The gallery walls themselves were covered with the artists collaborative name, ALAS, written using an ominous font style. The font seemed to stir confusion amongst my conceptions of the exhibition because it did not match the disheveled, rural qualities of the works. The provided art ranged in medium and style from postcards, lists of objects and places, to a pair of dirty cowboy boots.

ALAS’s works appeared personal and intertwined because of the obscure subject matter. As if one needed to have been a follower of their journey to appreciate this display, and I feel this is where the exhibition lacked. When art is successful, it is because the attraction creates unity in people. It can be difficult to find a work intriguing or worthy of praise when the initial thought is, “this appears sloppy, why is that the case?” I kept feeling disappointed and uninterested throughout my stroll around the exhibition. There was a disconnect and distance between my experience of/with the works, as well as with the exhibition itself. A reason for said disconnect being, I did not relate to the subject matter or understand it. The works were arranged in a cluttered display, no clear background to stem from, nor direction provided for visitors. Given, I understood that the arrangement could have been constructed and designed with a purpose. However, whether it was intended to allow the viewer explore with minimal direction/instruction, or not, I still found it unsatisfying.

Despite the exhibition being unenjoyable, due to disorganization, it remains one I am glad to have experienced. The subject matter/works were unique and possessed reasoning, however the presentation in its entirety was lackluster. Both artists may be worth checking up on in the future. Curiosity does remain, although, as to what their future exhibitions will contain, and the subject matter they will explore.

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