An Answer To a Zen Question / a Wind Instrument

Marissa Jezak

top to bottom: Expanding or Contracting, bronze. Time as Matter, plexiglas, wood.

top to bottom: Expanding or Contracting, bronze. Time as Matter, plexiglas, wood.

A small‭, ‬honeycomb-like construction of black and green metal‭, ‬displaying a repeated representation of Chewbacca’s head‭, ‬is shelved below a longer‭, ‬steel‭, ‬pipe-like apparatus‭ – ‬its colors‭, ‬pattern‭, ‬and shape resembling a snake‭, ‬didgeridoo‭, ‬or tribal tool‭. ‬On the same wooden shelf‭, ‬above them‭, ‬is placed a curvy but thin‭, ‬black‭, ‬bronze object‭ – ‬its undulating points and waves reminiscent of an EKG display‭. ‬

On the opposite end of the gallery‭, ‬a white vinyl downspout sits bent and burnt‭, ‬but clearly not awaiting rescue‭. ‬The marks of fire are clearly visible in its twists and folds‭, ‬discoloration‭, ‬and shrunken‭, ‬melted parts‭. ‬Out of all the sculptures in the show‭, ‬Whyte confesses that this piece‭, ‬unlike most of the others‭, ‬was the result of pure chance‭. ‬In other words‭, ‬he did not meticulously craft it‭, ‬but rather‭ “‬set up the conditions for its existence‭” ‬by starting a fire‭. ‬The sculpture‭, ‬entitled‭ ‬The Morphology of Flow‭ ‬almost resembles a seagull‭, ‬and mimicks the form of the object directly beneath it‭, ‬The Dividing Tongue‭.‬‭ ‬The two racquetball rackets‭  (‬formally belonging to the artists’‭ ‬mother‭) ‬placed directly above these two pieces have been neatly fused‭, ‬altering their functions‭ – ‬not rendering the new siamese‭ ‬twin dysfunctional‭, ‬but the objects within it useless in terms of their original intended functions‭. ‬Together‭, ‬these three objects compose their own installation‭, ‬In Search of Water‭.‬

Laying it All Out (18'r.), aluminum, steel, wheel, paint can.

Laying it All Out (18’r.), aluminum, steel, wheel, paint can.


Communal Consciousness (It Takes a Village to Raise a Wookie), bronze.

Communal Consciousness (It Takes a Village to Raise a Wookie), bronze.


In Search of Water (top to bottom): Trying to Paddle Up Court, racquets, cedar.  The Morphology of Flow, vinyl downspout. The Divining Tongue, maple, bronze.

In Search of Water (top to bottom): Trying to Paddle Up Court, racquets, cedar.
The Morphology of Flow, vinyl downspout. The Divining Tongue, maple, bronze.

An enormous compass‭, ‬capable of creating a circle thirty-six feet in diameter‭, ‬takes up an entire wall of the gallery‭ – ‬repurposing the measuring device as a signifier of the labor that goes into building a community‭. ‬Attached to one end of the compass is‭ ‬a sharp steel point‭, ‬tensely hovering just above the gallery floor‭, ‬and on the opposite end‭, ‬a wheel and a can of spray paint are securely fastened‭. ‬Whether the device is ready for work or destined to rest seems unclear‭. ‬Regardless‭, ‬its intimidating size demands attention‭…  ‬But‭, ‬arguably‭, ‬not as much as the giant‭, ‬pale mint green horn standing in the center of the room‭. ‬Victorious‭, ‬albeit somewhat bizarre‭, ‬and much larger than the other horns in the show‭, ‬this one guards the rest‭, ‬and also acts as an invitation‭, (‬it is playable‭) ‬a prop from a strange viking dream‭. ‬The reference to‭ ‬music‭, ‬illustrated in the presence of horns‭, ‬strongly reinforces the importance of the collective creation of sounds to what defines a culture and a community‭. ‬Additionally‭, ‬the use of such a traditional instrument‭, ‬and one that does not require electricity‭, ‬is automatically setting the sculpture into a more historical context‭.‬

Wishing for Mountains (Supper's Ready),  urethane, found mouthpiece, wheels.

Wishing for Mountains (Supper’s Ready), urethane, found mouthpiece, wheels.

‭ ‬

The Morphology of Flow, vinyl downspout.

The Morphology of Flow, vinyl downspout.

The title of the show‭ – ‬Potential Artifacts of the Northwest Territories‭ (‬at Re:View Contemporary‭) ‬implies that Whyte is providing a proposal for history‭. ‬These sculptures‭, ‬many of them resembling a traditional archetype of‭ “‬artifact‭”, ‬and some‭, ‬not so traditional‭, ‬are presented in a manner that is not only asking for historical interest‭, ‬but also suggests that the spaces in Hamtramck‭ – ‬such as Popps Packing‭, ‬created by the artist and his wife‭, ‬Faina Lerman‭, ‬should be considered spaces of archaeological interest‭. ‬Whether these objects are a product of their social practice‭, ‬or‭ ‬vice versa‭, ‬should not even be posed as a question‭. ‬Their inseparable nature‭, ‬rather‭, ‬must be emphasized lest we forget that the‭ ‬art object is only a small representation of the culture‭, ‬time‭, ‬and space from which it emerges‭.‬

These tools‭, ‬almost all of them long and thin‭, ‬function less as technological devices and more as items of memorabilia‭. ‬Whether‭ ‬or not their presence will one day be an indicator of a specific location and time‭ – ‬no one can accurately predict‭. ‬But‭, ‬to hint‭ ‬at a memory‭, ‬a mental space‭, ‬precedes the placement of the objects into a historical category anyway‭, ‬and this is precisely their function now‭.‬

The Divining Tongue, maple, bronze.

The Divining Tongue, maple, bronze.


A Proper Lineage (top to bottom): They Came From Planet X, bronze. The Family Conduit, paint on steel.  Communal Consciousness (It Takes a Village to Raise a Wookie), bronze.

A Proper Lineage (top to bottom): They Came From Planet X, bronze. The Family Conduit, paint on steel.
Communal Consciousness (It Takes a Village to Raise a Wookie), bronze.

All images courtesy of Marissa Jezak‭, ‬Graem Whyte and Re:View Contemporary‭.‬‭ ‬