MERE BELLIES // Christopher Corey Allen // 8.18.17 – 8.21.17
In MERE BELLIES Christopher Corey Allen presents a series of videos and sculptures created during his time in residence at Hair and Nails.
Christopher is interested in mythological and contemporary archetypes that exhibit gender and form variability, complexify the masculine-feminine binary and disobey normal rules through unconventional behavior. And by utilizing costume and video technique designed to decontextualize parts of the body, he explores representations of fixation, figurative appetite, repetition and bodily exploration.
Christopher’s diverse practice combines video and print media, sculpture, performance and psaligraphy. Taking inspiration from subjects as varied as cinema, religion, mythology, anthropology, and popular culture. Allen’s work explores ways of re-contextualizing the body to understand one’s personal mythology, ritual, and the plurality of which in these can exist.
Christopher Corey Allen: Mère bellies/Mother belies (August 18-20, 2017)
by Sean Smuda
“Those 90’s Raves, a definite influence. Excuse me, I have to find my father he’s lost in here somewhere, probably in a corner spacing out”.
Careful attentive smiling and foibling behind curtain to curtain and tiara curtain pirouettes. Not your bare tattoo, nor your neighbor’s is going to become dog and hit the ceiling and run the walls. Hemi-semi cloaked land without shadow, spun atomic, generative. What we inside and outside at the same time, the meat pulsing holes. Into it like a transporter curls Bilko, sending a very brass fly out. There’s a wall, there is a cylinder, there are diodes that braid it straight from the heart of role change. Enter the room that has the same room in it and it is shifting like junk. There is a figure A, costume doubled, made out of hitself, hertself, the floorboards, made out of the trees, floorboards made out of the trees. They are not feathers, they are life size. We are golden kiss stool, we French kiss eyes open and shut. The eye that comes from dirt and goes to fight. Well .30 exactly, but you know, an extension cord. On the shuffling stage, so that we don’t have to, are gang planks child god loops. But we do, we put all around. We imitate time with her every movement. Micro cochlear substitute tick. But in the big picture, the cut out microwave window, we are only whole as we give, done. The window is in the window within the window. The spiral’s in the spiral, was in the spiral. But really, it’s planks eye the extension cord, acknowledge the sky, acknowledge the ground, shake like rain. And in the back hammock, mic it, if you get two, you can do a headstand counterbalanced or head void netting internal and make three. A couple of 1950s windows remind us just how old all of this is; they were done in Belgium, like Delvaux. Downstairs, the mother breath. A hockey goalie fired from the league, too, present, bright and clean. Halo holes don’t come from the earth or return to the sky.
Ingredient list: “rustic” gallery, plastic swimsuit liner diamond cut in floor to ceiling length circles and walls, not too pushy, hair braid beads fringing them in DNA shorty native code, HD Video projection from green screen with After Effects, Primo-Posto-Mod Dance spatial orienter KVL, CCA it/s/he/selfs, 2D flap costumes, gold vinyl seat head, self chant Yoga, lamb hand organ soft barbells, AA’d 5x’s, ol’ timey printing lookin’ Passionate Journey good, camouflage, mimesis, synthesis, accretion, Siamese Hammsock, photography.
Sean Smuda is opening his own damn gallery, Pirsig Projects, at 734 E. Lake St, Named after Robert Pirsig who wrote Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance in the Roberts Shoes building at this address. Open call and inaugural show, the Metaphysics of Quality, slated for October, 2017. Submit/ffi: firstname.lastname@example.org
Christopher St. Christopher – MERE BELLIES
by Sheila Dickinson
Plastic and elastic, though taught (sp), the skin moves and breathes, stretches to accommodate. No more is this evident than in pregnancy. It’s hard to explain the feeling to someone who has not had their skin stretch over a womb the size of a beach ball. I left the gallery stuck in a realm of remembrance of time with a newborn, seeming to be endlessly breastfeeding, thinking of that time of intense closeness but also of separation. Mere Bellies quite literally points to the womb.
At first when walking into the gallery, the two white hanging sculptures, made of a resilient and stretchy plastic sheet that has small incisions covering it entirely, fell abstract and dancy. I say dancy because movement is implied by the beads strung on to ends cut into the plastic sheet. They beg you to touch, to watch the sculpture sway and listen to the soft chatter as they collide. Movement and dance is exaggerated throughout by videos of a lone dancer cloaked with similar cut and beaded sheets, shrouded further by a mask with only a hole for the mouth to breath. One video covers the far wall of the upstairs gallery and the other video is housed in the darkened cavern of the basement, with only the throbbing, loud pulsing sounds from the subterranean video echoing throughout the whole building. In this lower video the dancer has props, objects to interact with, made more difficult, however, due to the dancers arms stuck inside the costume; that is until a moment of liberation, when his arms emerge into white sleeves ready to lift primordial barbells.
At one stage the loud low bass pulsing mixed with the darkened chamber began to feel increasingly womblike, hearing the heartbeat of the mother. When the dancing figure with only mouth revealed seeks out hanging flesh colored balloons filled with water, the swaddled newborn clamoring for sustenance with no hands for help, makes the birthing references hard to ignore. Then at last, oh dear, the balloon breaks and the water misses the mouth and a catastrophic let down. I realize that the pain of childbirth is experienced as much by the baby as by the mother.
The salve appears atop, after climbing out of the cavern. It comes with a handicap, but perhaps the most vital handicap we know, connectedness and reliance on the other. Upstairs in the small alcove another plastic sheet with many small incisions stretches across the entire room, hanging about chest high, strung from the four corners of the room. On either end, sewn into the structure are two masks, this time with holes for eyes, nose and mouth. Two visitors can don the masks, look toward each other, eye to eye, held together by the skin-like surface.
As I pass the two white sculptures again, ready to leave the gallery with my daughter now grown taller than me, I see that one of the sculptures is spread wide, hanging from multiple points on the ceiling, with arms outstretched. Nearby, the other white sculpture hangs from a single wire with a circle beneath the fabric making a beaded tent. And there I see the mother and child separated fully and at last joyful.
ABOUT THE ARTIST:
Christopher Corey Allen is based in Detroit and Minneapolis and is currently in his second year as and MFA candidate at Cranbrook Academy of Art in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. Selected exhibitions include White Page Gallery (Minneapolis), Roman Susan (Chicago), and Minnesota History Center (Saint Paul). He is a 2015 recipient of the Minnesota State Arts Board Artist Initiative Award and The Lenore G. Tawney Scholarship. Residencies include Frans Masereel Centrum and Hair and Nails Gallery.