In a recent visit to the Des Moines area, I discovered the fantastic Des Moines Art Center for the first time. Among their multiple exhibition offerings (which I will cover at a later date), they had a monumental installation undertaking, Drawing In Space, which proved to formidable and entirely unforgettable. The result of three artists and one artist collective, Drawing in Space was a site specific exploration into space and line, through the utilization of a unique material; tape. Each installation occupied a different spot in the arts center, key here being "spot". For instance, Dave Eppley (New York) took over the entry hall with Set One, Set Two, a rainbow sprawl of vinyl, twisting together colorful bands to create shapes, lines and patterns on both the floor and walls.
Just beyond Eppley's entrance to the show, Monika Grzymala (Berlin) employed black and reflective tape to create her "spatial drawings". Each corner of the gallery is filled with expansive movement stretching from one side to the other. In these massive spiderweb-like structures, Grzymala layers tape to span from floor to ceiling, wrapping around walls in a continuation that encompasses the entire large gallery space. This enlarged scale of the installation invokes gestural drawing; sharp and concise lines that are expressive and action-packed. There is a certain momentum associated with the piece that forces the viewer to continue moving along with the tape's path.
The only representational work in the exhibition is Heeseop Yoon's (New York) Still Life Chandelier. A mural made completely of black tape, this wall drawing is entirely expansive, intricately descriptive, and overwhelmingly beautiful. Yoon's composition for the piece is filled with familiar items long forgotten in our garages and storage units. The objects we hold onto for sentimental or practical reasons, that sit in these spaces, rarely used yet kept forever. Yoon used pictures of sheds, basements and shops that she came upon on her travels as source material for the work. These familiar objects; tennis rackets, extension cords, musical instruments can be seen throughout Still Life Chandelier in a hanging fashion, a sort of ode to our collective stuff. As equally interactive as the other installations, Yoon's work spans the three levels of the building and can be accessed by each, offering the viewer an opportunity to see various aspects of the massive and intricate mural.
The kinetic energy of the installations was vibrantly apparent; each artist utilizing the medium in unique and individual ways. While tape itself offers little variety with aesthetics, each work transformed and expanded the possibilities of its practical function in our everyday lives.