Greg Hefford and Mario Scattoloni
Curated by: Jennifer McMackon and Max Streicher
9 February 1995 - 11 March 1995
Opening Reception 9 February 1995 8pm
White Lily Presents: Blind Date
White Lily Presents Greg Hefford and Mario Scattoloni’s Blind Date, a collaborative installation in the Project Room at Mercer Union.
Greg Hefford is a member of NetherMind. His work was recently featured as part of the Power Plant’s Naked State exhibition. Mario Scattoloni is a founding member of Reck Room. His work, Lilliputiansis currently on view at the Koffler Loggia Gallery in North York.
As Hefford and Scattoloni have not worked together before, their combined energies in the Project Roomsuppose a somewhat volatile experiment; an essay in chemistry (or not) that promises to evolve over the course of the exhibition.
White Lily Presents is the curatorial initiative of Jennifer McMackon and Max Streicher, a series of six exhibitions in Mercer Union’s Project Room. The site is proposed as a forum for experimentation and risk, focusing on the dynamics of flux and process.
White Lily Presents
Published by Mercer Union, 1996
Questionnaire for a Blind Date
1. How do either one of you respond to the idea of a gallery space and the effect that it might have on the work, given the history you both share in exhibiting through alternative projects?
2. The show is called BLIND DATE. Does this idea have anything to do with how you might approach a mutual need. I mean how far fetched is it to assume a kind of anxiety or dynamic tension, knowing that you both recognise each other’s work?
3. One thing that occurs to me when looking at ‘art on television’ is more or less how the message value fluctuates between a prescriptive style of programming associated with, I guess Hollywood, and personal intervention with the medium which I think artists are best at doing. Maybe one is about looking and the other is more about use.
4. In your work, Mario, the television monitor acts as a window into the activities that take place in the gallery, the movement of people through space, their interaction with the art, and even more apparent for me is the space with nothing but the art in it. The camera in this case acts as a third eye, or the eye of the critic which also acts as a scanning device. What do you think of this analogy?
5. I have to be frank with both of you now and tell you I just don’t get it. I really need to know how you decided upon this format. Why you, Greg, chose that footage from what looks to be an old Technicolour film, against Mario’s security footage from the foundation. Is the choice of information displayed on the monitor the only element that constitutes a blind date?
6. My experience in looking at art forces an anxiety which is really a need to understand a work. I have to start by looking for a language, and what fascinates me about this process is how it can be done through imagery. I wonder if either one of you might have experienced this through working together?
7. Sometimes when I walk into a gallery I’m surprised at the absence of meaning. I find it harder and harder to make distinctions between what is good and bad. Looking at a ‘nothing’ work can be debilitating, and yet huge texts can be written about it. I feel that in some way BLIND DATEcould get away with this.
Match-making is a powerful intuitive gift. Regardless of the apparent rationale behind uniting two individuals, it inevitably comes down to a hunch. Although impressed by the decision to engage Greg Hefford and Mario Scaffoloni in a collaborative work, the more I considered their respective installation method the more anxious I became about their impending, potentially explosive BLIND DATE.
Both have been known to make conceptually engaging and formally eclectic installations. I have witnessed these artists approach potential sites, gradually filling rooms to overflowing with found and fabricated objects. I’ve watched as each appears to engage in intense conversation with these artifacts, sifting through them, reconfiguring them, eliminating the misleading or irrelevant. Perhaps it is their lengthy process of distillation that enables them to produce works that invariably resonate with a quirky dignity.
My mind reeled with speculations concerning the possible outcome, not to speak of the logistics of accommodating their myriad objects. I came to the exhibition anticipating a compounded formal eclecticism in the service of refined individual expression. Instead, I encountered a darkened space almost entirely devoid of sensual stimulation. As I stood at the threshold, apprehending the distinct awkwardness of an initial encounter, I began to feel like an intruder, a voyeur of their blind date, observing what should perhaps remain private.
Two white boxes emerged from opposite walls, each containing monitor displaying one of the artist’s videos. Mounted at head height, the screens became disembodied faces, urgently whispering monologues of flashing images into opposing comers. The isolating effect of their divergent gazes was enhanced by the monitors’ wall suspension, literally denying the possibility of a physical common ground. Becoming increasingly aware that 1, the viewer, was the intermediary between the individuals that comprise this couple, I moved through the space and positioned myself before Greg’s screen.
Greg’s four-minute video loop of tightly edited television images may initially appear to be a didactic indictment of ‘media culture’. We have all become familiar with the stock iconic images utilized in defence of such an argument: the Club Med promise of the good life, the vicarious thrill of rodeo footage, the absurdly vulgar portrayal of sexual relations suggested by a Playboy Bunny with Hefner by her side. But how do the surprisingly calm and silent tackle box and the ridiculously enjoyable Planet of the Apesexcerpts fit into this equation? The repetition of these confounding images subverts the potential banality of a cliche media critique. Instead, there is the suggestion of an infinitely expanding set, narratively mutating with each additional image. Greg elicits the viewer’s subjective response by removing television images from their original narrative contexts and refusing to demand a fixed alternative interpretation. The viewer’s personal history, values, and private associations ultimately determine the way in which these images are resynthesised.
We move from Greg’s visually stimulating and psychologically compelling video to Mario’s formally restrained black and white surveillance camera footage. His mute screen flutters with images documenting the manufacture and maintenance of a neutral gallery space. The represented space architecturally echoes the gallery in which we currently stand. We, blind date voyeurs, begin to suspect that we, too, may be being scrutinised from some distant surveillance chamber. The eye of surveillance has been thrown back onto itself. We are wedged between the wall and Mario’s flickering monitor, becoming increasingly aware of ourselves as subject.
The installation’s formal constructions positions the viewer as sole intermediary between the two monitors (artists). Our awareness of our own subjectivity is further heightened by the cumulative effect of the video’s contents; the images are as seductive as they are alienating. If their date together were rounded with a first good night kiss, it appears to have occurred within the viewer herself, effectively transforming the event into a menage a trois. I replayed the ambiguous encounter in my mind the following day, pondering what was implied, intended, offered, withdrawn.