Exhibit Examines Society's Interactions With the Mundane

October 23, 2018 | By Drefnie Limprevil

The “ICA Collection: Entangled in the Everyday” exhibition, held at the Institute of Contemporary Art, examines society’s interactions with everyday objects. While some artists featured in the exhibit left the objects and images unfettered, others crafted objects into more obscure pieces with representative meanings. The common theme running through the exhibit is an elicitation of fascination and deep meaning from the mundane.


Photos by Drefnie Limprevil

The exhibit is organized in a maze-like fashion, allowing the viewer to wander through and look at diverse works of art. To the right of the entrance to the exhibit is a framed set of images and a dense and vividly colored collage. These frames make up Ellen Gallagher’s “DeLuxe” (2004-05), a set of images that feature vintage magazine advertisements showing the problematic nature of products aimed at black consumers. The latter is Arturo Herrera’s, “Hasen” (2011), whose bright and bold paint strokes captivate and force the viewer to find definition amidst the chaos. 


Further into the exhibit is Tara Donovan’s “Nebulous” (2008), a large, snow-like sculpture that lies on the floor. Donovan, known for her sculptures containing everyday objects including straws, straight pins, and buttons, created this piece using only tape. Further on are paintings, photographs, and digital media. One photograph, Anthony Hernandez’s piece, “Discarded #5, Near Brawley, California” (2012-15), features a man amidst his belongings on a bus, staring at the camera. The title of the image haunts the viewer as they make eye contact with the person that society has ignored and symbolically discarded. In Robert Pruitt’s painting, “Woman with X-Patterned Dress (After Bill Traylor)” (2007), you look at the portrait of a woman who doesn’t acknowledge there is an audience. These two pieces bring about a nice balance of how we view everyday objects; we often ignore or don’t mind them, even as we stare them in the face.


Photos by Drefnie Limprevil

Continuing through the exhibit,  there is a series of photos of artist Rineke Dijkstra’s subject, Almerisa, who fled to the Netherlands from the former Yugoslavia.. The photos capture her transitions from childhood to motherhood. All the photos in the “Almerisa” series (1994-2008) have a simple set up of a wooden chair and a basic background, meant to focus solely on her transition into adulthood. Across from this piece, is a bright green screen that flows from the ceiling to the floor. Liz Deschenes’ fascination with the power of color translates to her print, “Green Screen #4”(2001-16), where she allows color to take over as the subject, while addressing the representation that green screens hold in media and society. Adjacent to this piece, is a sculpture of a blown up 35mm film camera. In Damian Ortega’s, “Olympus” (2009), each part of the camera is placed on a series of plastic screens, giving two-dimensionality to a three-dimensional object.


The second leg of the exhibit featured multiple sculptures containing ordinary objects and materials, transformed and manipulated in various ways. The main draw of focus was Nari Ward’s sculpture “Savior” (1996). This sculpture features a towering amount of items bound to a shopping cart by a string of garbage bags. Behind the sculpture is a video of the artist pushing around the sculpture through the streets of New York City. The piece makes visible the invisibility of the homeless population who use the shopping cart to carry their belongings.


Though the exhibit deals with commonplace objects and sights, the artists utilize them as a tool to force the viewer to regard them in a new light. The exhibit features a diverse set of mediums and styles which leave viewers with a new perspective on art. The exhibit is open at the ICA until April 9, 2019.