The Austin Chronicle

"Melanie Clemmons: Likes Charge"

This solo exhibition at Women & Their Work conjures digital comfort in troubled times

Reviewed by Wayne Alan Brenner, September 11, 2020, Arts

Somebody is in your internet and fucking with your memes, and she's a witch.

Although "your internet" is, of course, everybody's internet – because it's that putative Al Gore invention, the TimBL-activated electronic rhizome that's become an inescapable adjunct to meatspace, that is, much like so-called real life, the thing we're all in together. It could be that the internet is neither good nor bad – unless you're eyeing it from a coding-level Jaron Lanier perspective, or unless, more basically, you're just another kneejerk Luddite – but it contains much of (and always more and more of) what's good or bad about humanity.

The name of the witch is Melanie Clemmons, and her newest conjuring is a sort of temple of dumaflaches. Digital dumaflaches, in particular, excised from the realm of ones and zeroes and brought into the physical world while remaining umbilically joined to that cyberscape, here evoked and arranged to provide a magical circle of protection from vicissitudes both virtual and non. Witches, they say, are either good or bad; but that's also a matter of perspective, and Matthew Hopkins isn't available for consultation because he's too busy rotting in hell; and in any case, this pythoness Clemmons hews to the more positive aspects and is also an artist.

We are talking, after all, about an exhibition at Women & Their Work gallery in Downtown Austin, Texas, in 2020, and screens are involved. A visit to Clemmons' "Likes Charge" at this venue will reward you with a respite from both the uglier urban noise and the more egregious www clamor, providing a safe dark space wherein to contemplate wall projections and glowing, livelinked installations that quietly investigate and involve how we interact online nowadays – and how ancient methods of magic might provide shelter from the worst of social storms.

That's a welcome sojourn under any circumstances, I'll insist, but it's especially appreciated in these more deeply cyber-embedded, shelter-in-place coronavirus days.

"Melanie Clemmons: Likes Charge"

Women & Their Work, 1710 Lavaca, 512/477-1064
Through Oct. 8

Copyright © 2023 Austin Chronicle Corporation. All rights reserved.