Across the street from what appears to be a community home for old foggies or some sort of hotel for traveling shoe salesmen, and sandwiched between multiple abandoned buildings and an auto body & paint store and a Jiffy Lube, located inside a highly discreet brick building typical of your Manchester Avenue and South Kingshighway Boulevard intersection, you’ll currently find the best damn show in town (clarify: the brick is discreet, the building itself is discreet, the monstruous vinyl high-contrast diamond-encrusted basketball banner is NOT discreet!). You have 10 days left to see it.
White Flag Projects is a gallery that was definitely not here the last time I visited St. Louis (sure enough they began operations in Sept 06, I was last passing through in August of that same year – although I remember reading about them in Megan and Murray’s blog from their time in the STL). The press release claims this is their most ambitious exhibition to date. If it wasn’t I’d be scared! Anything more than Brock Enright’s impressive array of scatological object installations and my eyes might be bleeding.
The space itself is gorgeous, a huge cavity of a space with just the right amount of Industrial Light & Magic: huge I-beams overhead, gorgeous natural light flooding in, an iron spiral staircase, an impressive back area office space. The works. Very impressive to see a space of this magnitude and professionalism set up camp in St. Louis, especially in an area of the city otherwise overlooked and overshadowed by car traffic that is usually only ‘passing through’.
First thought, How the hell did all of this stuff get in here? Visions of Enright (the name of my middle school in north St. Louis) driving cross-country with a Ryder truck full of football helmets, fake blood, tin-foil, mechanical gadgetry and his own sadistic version of Tin man come to mind.
Second thought, What the hell is going on with all of this stuff!? Closer inspection of a hand-drawn map of the installation gives nearly every object or array of objects in the space its own title. Over 70 works with titles ranging from “Tin man holding himself up”, “Punchy face”,”Log used to throw through wall to reveal a girl in a rabbit suit masturbating” or “Collection of things that come after you” suggest Enright’s fascination with the interstitial space of sex & violence, of nightmares and the images and signs used to represent them. Others are suggestive of Enright’s working methods, in that he gathers work as he moves along and around, culling work over time: “St. Louis bread” was clearly conceived, bought, and installed-abandoned during his time in the city; “Debris from 8 events” is clearly borne from past performances, detritus from old work given a new life.
Third thought, What do you find yourself attracted to? A punching bag? A pants-less plastic doll bent over staring back at you? Black & white photocopies of brains mounted on cardboard? A shoddy shelving unit nearly collapsed and wrapped in tin-foil, possibly the only thing keeping it standing? Or those almost-unifying objects, the seeds of some sort with dozens of razor blades jammed into each one, and mounted all around the place, like a raging virus enlarged for us to see or a latent grenade’s potential vectors of explosion. In writing about the show, you’ve learned a little bit about what I’m attracted to!
You have 10 days left to draw from and leave your own imprint in the show. Literally. The entire room is coated in dust from the construction of this arena of phantasmagoria, and footprints are everywhere, including that of a lady (I presume) wearing what appear to be size 13 stilettos.
[and thanks to Juan from Boots Contemporary, another great non-profit on Cherokee Street, for pointing me in the right direction!]