Die Mutter und Wohnungspfropfungen
(The Mother and Apartmentgrafting)
The Five Outer Planets (large scale)
Exhibition Dates: March 20 – May 2, 2004
Performance by Mark Dresser during the reception at 7pm
In the front room of the gallery, Ricoh Gerbl, a German artist from Berlin, presents Die Mutter und Wohnungspfropfungen (The Mother and Apartmentgrafting), a multi-layered photo project. In a process she calls "grafting", derived from the botanical term where a bud or shoot from one plant continues to grow when inserted into another, Gerbl photographs her mother in her home or in a natural setting. She then enlarges twenty of these photographs to life size and hangs them in homes of strangers throughout Berlin- two apartments at a time (approximately ten photographs per apartment) for four weeks. During this time, the owners hold a party at which she can then find two more apartments to host the works in progress. And so the photographs traveled throughout Berlin, for a year and a half. During this time, Gerbl documented where and how each of the originals were placed in the host apartments. The resulting photographs illustrate her "grafting" process. Gerbl photographically layers together these previously separated private lives of her mother and the hosts for public viewing. For the exhibition at Smack Mellon, Gerbl has installed her photographs in the gallery and will continue to initiate the grafting project at numerous apartments throughout Brooklyn.
In the main gallery space, Robert Taplin will exhibit The Five Outer Planets (large scale). Taplin personifies the planets of Saturn, Jupiter, Uranus, Neptune and Pluto, envisioning them not as heavenly bodies but as middle-aged mortals, while also delving into their mythological counterparts. They are recreated in pairs, one in plaster and the other in translucent fiberglass resin. The latter, illuminated from within, makes its plaster double visible and provides the only source of light in the gallery. Each figure also has characteristics recognizable as those of the god it represents. Saturn, named for a deity who ate his children, has an engorged, swollen belly. Uranus, who was emasculated by Saturn, his son, is hunched over with his hands between his legs. The figures, ranging in size from 2 feet (Pluto) to10 1/2 feet (Jupiter) are suspended from the rafters and tumble about the darkened room. The viewer then walks amongst these "bodies", placed in relative positions and proportions to the actual planets.
Mark Dresser is a musician who has been composing and performing solo contrabass and ensemble music professionally since 1972 and is well-known throughout the Free Jazz world. Taplin commissioned Dresser to write music responding to the Five Outer Planets. In response, Dresser has composed five pieces, one for each of the "planets", which he will perform during the reception. Dresser plays an altered acoustic bass, allowing him to play two notes at once and experiment with other strange effects that compliment the eerie quality of Taplin's work.