In Absence of the White Cube

There was once a time in our art work when the highest attainable goal was showing in the glorified haven of the gallery space. 

Just as the formally trained musician strives for a seat amidst the organized cacophony of the symphony orchestra, the crux of success for the visual fine artist traditionally lies in the prestigious white cube. Admittedly, for many years, the end goal for our art was indeed the most unattainable galleries of Chelsea, the Venice Biennale, Saatchi, Tate Modern, and so forth. Even with this goal in mind, there was always a little nagging voice questioning whether or not we belonged in the gallery- whether all art had to occupy the gallery space in order to claim legitamcy.

During a period of institutional rebellion, we began using the gallery space to make a mockery of it's authority. Yearning to transform the gallery space and challenge the convention of the white walls, we made large-scale installations that usually invoked a sort of WTF? sentiment in most gallery-goers. 

In one gallery show, with the theme of romance in mind, we created the Romantiplex, in which we partitioned the gallery space into three romance-themed stores. Each store wore a cardboard facade, reminiscent of a child's play house (but contained very adult material). Teddy's Corner had a snarky take on lingerie and sold sexy teddies made only from the hides of plush teddy bears, while Lather's walls were heavily adorned with dildo-shaped glycerin soaps- all for sale of course. The third room was a dingy excuse for a lounge- the worlds smallest night club- where we served champagne to viewers and serenaded them with cheesy violin/viola covers of romantic pop music. The piece was thick with disdain and satire.

In another show, we made five huge sculptures from our old clothes and dilapidated domestic gadgets and paired them with wine. We made tasting notes for each wine, which in reality was also an artist statement about the piece. The idea was to pair wine with art as if it were a dish. 

All of this was done in spite of the gallery space, or perhaps to spite it. Although we were making tangible, sellable art commodities, our true passion rested at the epicenter of the intangible and ephemeral art experience, rather then the collectible art object. Slowly, we turned to light as an art medium. Instead of exerting negative energy to challenge the institution from within, we decided the best method of questioning this authority was to disregard it altogether and take to the public.  

One element the members of Knomad Colab have in common is that we are both terminal degree dropouts… merely months away from attaining the coveted MFA and PHD. Despite the disappointment of a few faculty members, family, and friends, it is the painful decision to withdrawal from the academic world that helped bring us clarity. Simply put, we did not belong in a gallery. 

Only a couple months ago, during our last attempt at a normal, gallery-style art life, we experienced a breath of satisfying reassurance. As we stood in distaste in front of the gallery wall, ogling our work (a large print of some recent light work), we repeated to ourselves… "we do not belong in a gallery."

We now know this- light is our medium and the public sphere is our format for sharing it- for building an inclusive rather than exclusive community around art and creativity. Below is our most recent light work.

In preparation for our Kickstarter project and to relinquish that last bit of gallery-itous, we decided to disseminate our massive collection of art supplies and materials. In effect, we cleansed and simplified our pallet, keeping only light-based materials. A large collection of beads now resides in Flagstaff, AZ. Forty pounds of soap along with a healthy assortment of scents and dyes finds its home in Souther Pines, NC, while bins of markers, pastels, pencils, and a multitude of artist paper share a cozy abode in York, PA.

And now, we are ready to hit the road, live art, and bask in camaraderie.     

Our Kickstarter project, Traveling at the Speed of Light, begins officially this coming Saturday in York, PA. We are asking that people come out, share a moment in time, and experience art by active participation instead of passive spectating. We will keep you all posted on our whereabouts and timing via this blog and through various social media outlets. You can view the map of our route HERE and the calendar/schedule of our destination cities HERE

To hear more about this project and our thoughts on Kickstarter and art, check out our recent PODCAST interview on Funding the Dream, Kickstarter with Richard Bliss. We will also be interviewing about this project with Denver's 5280 Magazine in late January and will share the story with you as soon as it is published. We want to thank you all for making this light installation tour across the country possible and for reading our musings.