The Austin Chronicle

'2 Awkward 2 Heavy'

Art collective Ink Tank unleashes its sequel to last summer's blockbuster 'More Awkward Than Heavy'

By Caitlin Greenwood, August 9, 2013, Arts

Ink Tank, the artist collective known for its encompassing, unconventional installations and performances, seeks to capture the spirit of its inspired show "More Awkward Than Heavy" with a sequel, "More Awkward Than Heavy II: 2 Awkward 2 Heavy." When sitting down with the group of 13 members, all of whom have distinctly different backgrounds and areas of expertise, the clamor of excitement about the upcoming unveiling of "2 Awkward 2 Heavy" is infectious. Jokes are bandied about as quickly as beers are slung down the table when group members settle down to discuss their latest.

"We have similar motifs as a movie sequel," ventures David Culpepper, when pressed to discuss the blockbuster terminology associated with the show. Mock DVD cases for 2 Awkward 2 Heavy with a full list of supporting cast members – i.e., artists who are joining the group for the exhibition – are passed around. Ink Tank has taken on several projects it considers franchises – e.g., the "Armageddon" series, which concluded in December – but "More Awkward Than Heavy" was a show it had given no thought to reviving until it was approached by former hosts UP Collective. "[UP Collective creative directors] Ricky [Jaén] and Taylor [Browning] asked, 'Hey, remember how great that first show was? Want to do it again?' And of course we said yes," recalled Emily Cayton. With the venue booked and plans in motion, Ink Tank began to envision how it could recapture the painful, embarrassing, and stressful event that was "More Awkward Than Heavy."

For those who missed out on the original, let's catch you up on the plot. For one weekend, Ink Tank took over the two-story UP Collective building for a show that was both performance and visual art. Upon entering, guests were confronted by collective members inquiring about their RSVP to the event as plates smashed around them, a mechanism activated by the front door opening and closing. A life-sized bounce house was pressed sadly against the walls of UP Collective's main gallery while a sculpture of mannequin heads spun in the corner. Ink Tankers took turns performing ad hoc improv routines on an open-mic stage, while the ones tending bar wouldn't let patrons leave with a drink unless they tipped well. And that's just scratching the surface. "More Awkward Than Heavy" was laced with uncomfortable performances, images, and installations that ebbed with unease, and a cast of characters, both members and eager participants, who flung themselves wholeheartedly into fanning the discomforting flame.

With pressure mounting to replicate the overwhelming awkwardness of the original show, it's hard to imagine how Ink Tank will be able to pull it off without the element of surprise working in its favor. None of the collective members seem phased by the challenge, though. Austin Nelsen chimes in, "You've seen a sequel to a movie without seeing the original, right? It's like that. It's still good."

"Being awkward is universal," emphasizes Cayton. When asked what they hope for their prospective audience, member Casey Polachek announces, "Please come!" to which Cayton tacks on, "Well, at least come in."

"More Awkward Than Heavy II: 2 Awkward 2 Heavy" will take place Saturday, Aug. 10, 7-11pm, at UP Collective, 2326 E. Cesar Chavez. For more information, visit

Copyright © 2021 Austin Chronicle Corporation. All rights reserved.