Well, we made it through, and we were able to celebrate the bright future ahead with Ink Tank's "Armageddon Outta Here." Though the exhibition was entrenched with collaborative features and supremely detailed installations, the show stretched between an achievement of something truly artistic and an extravagantly themed party.
Upon arrival, audience members were approved by Ink Tank's security team and whisked inside to a decontamination checkpoint housed in Co-Lab's outdoor gallery space. A gas mask-laden individual invited you to take a seat and (upon approval) lobbed off a chunk of your hair in order to preserve a DNA sample. You were then released to maneuver through the highly guarded compound, with gun range, food supply, and ad hoc shelter. Shooting lessons were taught on BB guns, while color bombs (papier-mâché balls full of colored dust) were lobbed at various targets. In the middle of Co-Lab's yard sat the asteroid from 2011's "Last New Year" show. The asteroid jutted ominously out of the ground and was lit to complete the effect of a recent crash. Ink Tank had converted the main gallery space into a makeshift dormitory. Bunk beds lined the walls and were decorated with personal effects from each of the contributing members. The setting was of a recent apocalypse in which the dust was just finally settling.
But the tone itself felt strained, as though creative inputs had become overwhelming, and instead of self-editing, the group pushed onward against its own deadline. The sense of panic about the world collapsing became lost in an attempt to accessorize the postapocalypse with irony and entertainment. There's nothing wrong with creating an event that the community can be involved in, and Ink Tank does so expertly; audiences were running through the Co-Lab project space, excitedly drawing attention to new facets of the exhibit that they uncovered. As an artistic force, however, the Ink Tank mission felt compromised.
Within Ink Tank's growth, it has also expanded past its original intentions. Ink Tank is fully capable of refining its mission, and I expect that whatever its identity adheres to will be innovative and insightful. It is now just a matter of embarking upon the new year with a refined sense of purpose, be it artistic or otherwise.
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