CURATOR: fantastic creatures and huge paper snowflakes
Art-geek extraordinaire Courtney Sexton presents a weekly selection of Philly's must-see gallery exhibits. This week: Fantastical creatures, philosophy and the biggest paper snowflakes you've ever seen.
Marginal Utility Presents Alexi Kukuljevic: “The I Lesson, Part I, 2012”
God is dead; Art is dead; to be, or not to be; I think, therefore I am. Clearly, if I’m ever going to learn the difference between truth and Truth, I need to brush up on my philosophy. Artist/philosopher Alexi Kukuljevic, on the other hand, does not. If you’re interested in venturing out of the cave for a bit, you should definitely see his current installation at Marginal Utility, the gallery’s first in a series that will rotate every three weeks through August 12 as part of the “First Among Equals” exhibition at ICA, an experiment in collective vs. individual work that “resists the notion that collaboration equals consensus.”
Through April 8, free, Marginal Utility, 319 N. 11th St., second floor, marginalutility.org.
Michelle Muzyka’s “Efflorescence” at Slingluff
With exhibitions like Michelle Muzyka’s cut-paper sculptures adorning Slingluff Gallery's walls (and ceiling, and floor, and much of the space in between), it’s no wonder it's gained such a reputation as a sweetheart of the Philly art world. “Efflorescence” is inspired by the growth trends and patterns of molds, fungi and other decomposers; the exhibit “represents an artificial species composed of manually and digitally cut white paper colonizing a vacant interior space. The entity overtakes and germinates from the manufacture objects.”
While the installation is aesthetically attractive — it’s a bit like walking amid giant, detailed, sophisticated paper snowflakes — what makes it even more pleasing to experience is the depth of thought so apparent in the creative outcome. Muzyka’s use of digital and mechanical technology to attain the necessary precision for this installation to be successful (which it so is) adds another nice layer to the ideas of decomposition, generation and regeneration. The mechanism of production essentially becomes an uncontrollable series of fractals, just like the patterns created by the natural species that inspire the work to begin with.
Through April, free, Slingluff Gallery, 11 W. Girard Ave., 215-307-1550, slingluffgallery.com
“Mythology and the Forgotten Gods” at Phantom Hand
Phantom Hand, an arts initiative/exhibition space supported by Arts on South, has made its temporary home in a gallery on the street once famous as a scuzzy haven for starving artists, now famous as a gathering place for masses of teenagers shopping for novelty condoms, bongs and clothing made out of gold lame. The space manages a gritty, old-school-South-Street kind of feel, though, which is appropriate for the mass of drawings, paintings and sketches that make up “Mythology and the Forgotten Gods” — definitely a bit on the dark and edgy side, but also a seeming ritualistic Bacchanal toast to the early spring.
Goblets, scales, talons and wings of all colors and sizes set the walls crawling with the creatures of legend and lore, and you almost get the sense that you’ve walked into a room plastered with comic-book illustrations or would-be Zelda characters. After the initial shock of being overwhelmed (there are a lot of images in the collection), I was really impressed by the intricacy found in almost all of the works — a feature that contributed to effect of the creatures appearing to come to life. Viewing them all together made me jealous of the imaginations that could create such fantastical beings.
Through April 21, free, Phantom Hand, 604 South St., phantomhand.blogspot.com