"The First Horizons of Juno" at MASS Gallery

Within this smart and variable group show are three works that are muscular, robust, something to pump your fist to


And that was that by Jane Hugentober

"The First Horizons of Juno" features three moments I might describe as muscular. The first is Jane Hugentober's And that was that, a mixed-media tapestry hanging like a net from the ceiling by two threatening hooks. The tapestry drapes to the floor, its lower edge pouring over the concrete in ponderous folds. The tapestry is made from various media that coagulates like glue in places and features a rope-thick cord like a spine down the tapestry's center, as though the tapestry was an eviscerated animal, a carcass turned inside out. Only this animal is unrecognizable, and may in fact still be alive. It is weighty, but it is also delicate, breathing, as if despite its ragged appearance, it maintains hope.

The second moment is a bizarre video piece, Holograms, by Candice Lin. The video takes up its own darkened corner of the gallery. It includes a cornucopia of imagery I can only catalog in pieces here: volcanoes exploding; a robot operating a switchboard; people speechmaking to invisible audiences; odd, frightening humanoids made from clay, one of which appears to be murdered in front of our eyes by invisible assailants; and much more. Images are accompanied by mellow, largely unintelligible voices propounding on the mystical and metaphysical. While much of what was happening admittedly went over my head, I was rapt, engaged by the ever-shifting imagery, as well as the ominous, captivating stop-motion figures – the robots and humanoids – that pop up here and there like road markers to manage some sense from it all. Video work can often be obtuse to the point of absurdity, a reflection of sloppy decision-making, but Holograms screams order, even in the midst of its chaos. The Jonestown cult comes to mind, or even L. Ron Hubbard's Scientology, a convincing madness that uses a surreal, dependable logic as its seduction.

And that was that and Holograms are on opposite sides of the gallery from each other. Between them is Christina Coleman's Transporter, an arch made from black synthetic braiding hair mimicking an African-American woman's 'do. Transporter is a good title for the sculpture. It's large enough to walk under (which I did, though I'm not sure I was supposed to) and can therefore act as a portal or gateway. If I was transported by it, it could have been to any number of dimensions – to another cultural experience, for instance, one that doesn't belong to me. I'm a Mexican-American male, so if I had my own arch, it might be made from something else, and it might take its travelers somewhere altogether different. But perhaps both portals – mine and Coleman's – would take you to the same place, or at least the same condition, which I'll call pride. Transporter is muscular in part because of that pride's imposing, elegant force.

These three strike me as muscular, not because they are the strongest pieces in the show, but because they are the most plainly robust. They're Beethoven, Metallica, Dr. Dre, something to pump your fist to. The other work on display is at least as fine, but it is often of a different nature. More swift, like Christine Rebet's amoeba-like illustrations. More capricious, like the archive of delicately curated objects that make Chantal Wnuk's San Diego County Objects. On a whole, the show is smart from beginning to end (if it can be said to have an end). It is variable. It is erratic. Most essentially, it is complete.


"The First Horizons of Juno"

MASS Gallery, 507 Calles #108
www.massgallery.org
Through Oct. 22
READ MORE
More MASS Gallery
"Johnston Foster, Irena Jurek, and Jared Theis: Body Talk"
This show's three artists display creative, complex alternatives to the meat sacks we all share

Wayne Alan Brenner, March 18, 2016

"Mons Dew" at MASS Gallery
Five artists bombard the senses with brightly colored images that speak to personal consumption of commercial goods

Caitlin Greenwood, Oct. 16, 2015

More Arts Reviews
Zach Theatre's <i>Lady Day at Emerson's Bar & Grill</i>
Zach Theatre's Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill
A fierce portrait of Billie Holiday painted in blood and pain

Robert Faires, June 23, 2017

Penfold Theatre's <i>Around the World in 80 Days</i>
Penfold Theatre’s Around the World in 80 Days
This original, gender-bending theatrical take on Jules Verne's adventure tale is a grand story told with delightful imagination

Elizabeth Cobbe, June 23, 2017

More by Sam Anderson-Ramos
Anya Gallaccio: to see if time was there at Laguna Gloria
Anya Gallaccio: to see if time was there at Laguna Gloria
The artist's giant tree stump carved from limestone is a sign that we love ancient things and are part of nature, too

June 23, 2017

“Sean Caulfield: Landscapes: Transformed/Transfigured”
The blackness and voids in the artwork here feels like a future world laid waste, but it also feels like us

June 16, 2017

KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

MASS Gallery, Christina Coleman, Jane Hugentober, Candice Lin, Karen Lofgren, Christine Rebet, Alice Wang, Chantal Wnuk

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
AC Daily, Events and Promotions, Luvdoc Answers

Breaking news, recommended events, and more

Official Chronicle events, promotions, and giveaways

Updates for SXSW 2017

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)