Review: ''Pop Up Show'' at Martine Chaisson Gallery

Joli Livaudais, Anima (left) and Animus (right), both 2013. Aluminum, resin, inkjet photographic print on Kozo paper. Courtesy the artist and Martine Chaisson Gallery, New Orleans.

Part of the enchantment of film as an art form is its ability to immediately draw viewers into a world outside of their own, and even if just for a moment, consider it as their own. It’s an escape from reality and perhaps also an exploration into a new identity, a new life, a new way of being. In "Pop Up Show," on view at Martine Chaisson Gallery, photographs by Ryn Wilson play upon those cinematic expectations reserved within us. In one diptych, Game of Thirds, 2012, a pair of hands dancing along a piano echoes the outstretched arm of a young woman lounging in the bathtub. This is no particular film, but the familiar tropes are all there, preying upon that universal part of the subconscious that secretly envisions starring in someone else’s scene.

Taryn Möller Nicoll invites a glimpse into our inner selves through her dissection of the body. In many cultures, bones are viewed as sacred elements; they represent humanity at its physical core, the most fundamental part of existence. In her photographic prints of collage, Nicoll forms collections of bones, like an archaeologist on an excavation rummaging through the remains of some lost species. In simplest terms, Nicoll points out the obvious: we are but a grouping of bones, muscles, and viscera. Are the desires unearthed by Wilson’s works any less significant in Nicoll’s anatomical view? Which facet defines us as more “human”—the body, the brain, or is it something else?

Carl Jung believed that within the unconscious mind lies the anima and animus—the feminine inner personality of the male or the masculine inner personality of the female. In Anima and Animus, both 2013, Joli Livaudais has printed two life-size figures on aluminum, presiding like anointed deities over the gallery. The male Animus clutches a pomegranate in one hand and antlers in the other. While the female Anima is gently bathed in light, Animus appears more malevolent, shrouded in darkness, suggesting that both figures equally define the complexities of humanity.

At its core, the process of making art is an investigation—into the world around us, the unknown, and, of course, the self. Some of the artists in "Pop Up Show" challenge the fixed delineations of our bodies and our selves, and, in turn, ask where the intangibles—what we might call creativity or even the spirit—lie within. The question is not new, but remains inconclusive, reminding us why art, a medium that traffics in the ineffable, is a crucial vehicle for its exploration.

Taryn Möller Nicoll, Bony Framework, 2012. Original archival print of a collage (cut ink drawing and screen printed paper). Courtesy the artist and Martine Chaisson Gallery, New Orleans.