Secret Acts @ Fourth Wall Project


 

Text by Sam Nickerson for Boston Art Underground –
I walked away from Secret Acts with more reading material than there were pieces in the exhibition. Sometimes, this is a good thing. The walls of my apartment are filled with exhibition cards and ads.

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In the case of Secret Acts—an MFA thesis show at Fourth Wall Project for the School of the Museum of Fine Arts—I could have just used some wall text.

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The exhibition is a wandering array of text, photography, installation, and, if you’re in the right place at the right time, performance. The common thread running through the show is a big one (hence all the maps and pamphlets): the reworking of private experiences into public events.

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Daniel Embree’s mostly performance pieces most clearly capture this theme. Told through the mechanisms of Mormon worship—video of ritual movements, a pamphlet recounting witnessed testimony, etc.—Embree explains and presents the very taboo and very private life of gay Mormons.

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Ashley Wood’s photographs are sent through the wash, torn, and lean framed against the wall. In The Plante Sisters, Washed, Wood’s prose tells how she grew up with sisters in the “Mind Your Manners” south, how she took their portraits and let them go through the wash, along with her socks and underwear. Seeing the actual tattered stack of portraits all tied together, Wood and the viewer are
should have similar reactions: “I wonder if they are more like the real thing this way.”

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The three components of Barometer, scattered on opposite walls, create a fractured view of an author’s mid-twentieth century room. Courtney McClellan puts antique furniture on floorboards and places them at 45 degree angles on the walls. An old copy of Shakespeare’s complete works lies on the floor and countless pages with the same text printed stick out from a desk drawer. Barometer feels like a mental reconstruction of a physical place; it’s frantic and could be several memories making up one image.
A minor weak point: a pair of boots attached to planks and lit from behind come off a bit too cliché compared to the rest of the installation.

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Without wall text, Armoured, a sugar-armor installation by Monica Lynn Manoski, seems unfortunately removed from the context of the rest of the show. On the plus side, Armoured has an occult sensibility that’s oddly mesmerizing.

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The worm hole of a theme might be what bogs down such a sparse show as Secret Acts. In which case, the catalog is the most impressive and coherent work of the exhibition: more prose, more works shown, and a logical book format really hammer the concept home.

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GET THERE: Take the Green Line to Fenway

SEE IT: March 20 – 29, talk and closing reception March 29, 7 – 9pm

MORE INFO: http://fourthwallproject.com/flog/2013/03/20/secret-acts/

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