Friday 13 March, 2009

Brian Tolle _CRG Gallery

For his first show at the CRG Gallery, the artist Brian Tolle presents until March 21st “Levittown”, a group of cast silicones sculptures representing sort of melting houses in some very unexpected positions.

Levittown was the name given by Abraham Levitt to a complex of houses in Long Island, New York. Designed and built by the latter, this housing community became in the fifties the model of the American suburban life, and was strictly reproduced all over the blighted farmland. This mechanic mass production, where only the color was varying, was a great symbol of the American dream. In this exhibition, Brian Tolle brings us a very accurate metaphor of the actual collapse of this ideal.

Indeed, these houses that were yesterday an easy way to access to a middle class society, are today lost by their inhabitants because of the subprime mortgage crisis. The dream became a nightmare, and like in the nightmare, the reality is falling apart. Tolle distorts, manipulates the shapes of the houses, which are in fact only frontages:  like ghost houses, they remain empty inside. Emptied of furniture, of people, of life.

A house, one of the fundamental element of our everyday life on which a man can rely on on, where he gets the comfort of a family life, is here left in a basket, there extended and as planted in the floor like a provisory tent for camping, they are also deformed and put in a trolley, or


even gets ironed on a ironing board. The unbelievable is here happening; the houses are contorted like any common and useless object, ready to be transported like a vulgar box of chocolates.

“The rubber houses, without any means of internal support, resemble deflated or melting skins. Meticulously crafted and bearing all the architectural details of the original houses, the effigies occupy the gallery space in different forms, each draped over or suspended by different appropriated objects. In one of the works, the elastic house hangs languidly and contorted over a 1950's vintage beauty parlor hair dryer. The elastic shell takes on the figure-like structure of the form beneath it, resembling a cloaked and bowing figure (…). Within each pairing, the found object and pliable architectural rendition inform each other; at times they exemplify hidden social or political signifiers that might remain dormant outside of their union.”

The objects chosen are, like the houses, the standard mass products of the American way of life. Thus, they respond to each other and emphasize the enormous conformity of the American consumerism.

Finally, two ideas are rising from this exhibition: one is, because of the actual economic context, the fall of the American dream. The second, is an image of the particular American way of consumerism, implying all this tendency to live in the strict conformity of the mass-produced standard


[Visual above : View of the installation at the CRG Gallery, New York, 2009. Courtesy CRG Gallery] 

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