‘Take Me to Bed or Lose Me Forever’

Volitant Gallery's exhibition "Take Me to Bed or Lose Me Forever," which both employs and questions many of love's clichés to reflect on our experience of the emotion, is a smile and a good laugh

Arts Review

"Take Me to Bed or Lose Me Forever"

Volitant Gallery, through Dec. 30

It is the one line from Top Gun that almost everyone remembers: When Goose's wife says, "Take me to bed or lose me forever," he follows with "Show me the way home, honey." And if you don't remember what comes next, Volitant's current group show will help jog your memory. Each work shows the way through blissful beds, bedders, and the unhappily bedded alike, employing and questioning many of love's clichés. Under the curatorial direction of Leona Scull-Hons, "Take Me to Bed …" reminds us that between life and death there is at least love, in its many variations. In Bunnyphonic's coy pairing of apple and inchworm on two separated 78rpm records, we see the unending song of love at play: the desire to absorb, to possess, to even eat the object of your desires and make it part of you. In Sarah Voglewede's exuberant tented love shack, oozing, scalloped red, pink, and purple carpets map out the space of utopic union, while balloons and ribbons lilt above this house of bliss.

All in this exhibition is not candy and roses, however: In Bunnyphonic's Sweet Dreams Schadenfreude, which might best be described as an oversized valentine's box of the type we made in class in the third grade, the invitation to love and to play is given form and matter. Stepping into the box, complete with a pink heart-shaped door, the viewer is presented with an endearing little piano, marked with stickers faded and curled by what were once, hopefully, loving hands. The scene and the experience pulls you in, until the moment you acquiesce, breaking all of your own gallery hands-off inhibitions, and finally put your own hands to the little piano keys only to find there is no sound. The piano is broken, and the invitation rings surprisingly hollow.

On the subject of hollowness, Jeff Hauger's work examines the economies of love in a series of very clever documents filled sometimes with formal jargon and other times with the confessions of the lovestruck, signing away one's very soul to an unseen lover in return. In Hauger's description of the materials used to make the piece he calls Emily Marquadet's Soul, "pins" and "star dust" file in alongside "one soul" and "shadow box with lock and key." As Emily writes out the promising of her soul – an object, as she notes, the existence of which is as yet unconfirmed by science – the use of blue pen on notebook paper throws us back to our own endless middle-school notes, written in undying love to the latest crush. The price of her soul, however, has a number attached to it, reminding us of the trade, the gift with many strings attached that love often makes of us and itself.

Overall, "Take Me to Bed or Lose Me Forever," like so many of our experiences of love, is a penetrating reflection on our highest heights and our lowest absurdities. It is a smile and a good laugh, and it might end before you realize it was ever here to begin with.

(The gallery reports that the piano inside does work but was apparently being finicky the day I visited.)

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