Right as Hwy 183 splits off towards Airport Blvd and 7th street, I looked at my phone and saw that Pump Project had started a live video of the artist talk I was on my way to. I knew I would be late but admittedly I did not think it would start on time, which is what kept me from turning around at several points in my drive over. I could have watched it at home, the live feed suggested, but I was already so close that I refocused my effort and put my eyes back on the road.
Arriving as the two artists, Tsz and Nat AKA Big Chicken and Baby Bird, were answering questions about their show The Door by The Garden, I couldn’t help but feel bad about my tardiness. Punctuality, when enforced, looks like evidence of good home training and I hated to think I was without it even among the most casual crowd.
Home training, that domestic sense that seems to be either completely missing or fully exploited with rare exception at events these days was partly the focus of their collaborative work which featured huge paintings on vinyl panels, smaller paintings on paper, furry wall hangings and plaster floor sculptures of headless creatures in various states of home life.
Many of the paintings featured a vessel-type creature that looked like a macaroni noodle, that most basic pantry item that has sustained millions with it’s cheap and easy prep. Along with it's familiarity, the creature played on our sense of direction. Even with the addition of legs, it wasn't always clear which end was the head and which was the ass. When it appeared to move forward, or have liquid sliding through it, you could just as easily imagine the motion happening in reverse.
In some scenes the noodle-being lounged in a pool, depicted on a platform not unlike the Barbie dream house toys where the sides of the structure are exposed to show the layers built into this play of luxury. In other scenes, it had legs and crawled hungrily around a pond of brightly colored nutrient that other macaroni creatures where feasting, or spewing, on.
The furry pelts that hung on the wall were cotton-candy colored tapestries alluding to the skin that might have once covered the black, headless dog sculpture-a focal point of the show. The removal of a skin and its subsequent display was a nod towards value and even costume, I felt, as I listened to the artists talk about the exploration of their identity as femme presenting women and their place within the domestic system. The dog was titled Won Coi, a Chinese term for abundance as well as a very common pet name in the country, cleverly exposing an obsession with attracting wealth as a sort of pet project.
The Mattel-like color palette of vibrant pinks, purples, mint and yellows were enhanced by the many deep blue sections of the paintings and sculpture which the artists pointed out was influenced by the ‘blue screen of death’, the dead computer screen so many of this generation grew up understanding meant shit had gone terribly wrong. Like Ikea toys meant for kids who don’t have the space but want to play house, you can store your fantasies in an area the size of a computer chip but there is no telling when and in what form they’ll come out as.