The Franklin is the newest alternative exhibition space to join the burgeoning art community in Chicago’s East Garfield Park neighborhood. While many non-commercial art spaces boast of breaking with traditional gallery design, The Franklin obliterates the “white cube” and stands autonomously as a work of art. The slatted, wooden structure that serves as the gallery was designed and built by Edra Soto and Dan Sullivan who started curating shows this summer after permanently installing the space in their own backyard.
The October exhibition which recently came down at The Franklin was Suspended, an installation by local artist Regin Igloria. A cornucopia of expensive camping equipment spills out of a large basket made of white plastic tubing. The sculpture hangs from the center of the exhibition space, allowing viewers to walk around its hulking mass. Beneath its basin is a grid of wooden tiles with grass-green sushi paper.
The bouquet of outdoor gear is intriguing, although cotton batting obscures most of its contents from view. A forest green sleeping bag perfectly compliments the vibrant orange fishing poles jutting out from its folds. Straps and cords strategically spill out of the basket. Many of the trappings had a slick, plastic coating; they seem unusable, as though they will never touch the ground. Igloria uses equipment designed to help one survive in the wild for their rich colors and luscious textures.
Perhaps the most interesting moments of the installation occurs when the sculpture collides with the natural landscape: a gust of wind gently rocks the hanging basket as fallen leaves scattered across the tiny blades of fake grass.
Whether camping or making art, what does one need when confronted with the great outdoors? When installing work in a space exposed to natural elements, how protected or preserved should the work be? By only using waterproof materials, Igloria resists letting his work be vulnerable to the conditions of The Franklin. Suspended calls attention to the bougie trappings of the contemporary camper for the viewer brave enough to enter the wilds of a Garfield Park backyard.
All photos courtesy The Franklin. Visit The Franklin by appointment: firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information, visit http://thefranklinoutdoor.tumblr.com/.