DailyServing recently had the opportunity to catch up with Chicago-based artist Michael Rea to see what he has been up to since his inclusion in the 2009 DailyServing curated exhibition 1000 DAYS, in Los Angeles. Rea has been busy with all types of new studio projects, many of which have culminated in two concurrent exhibitions on view in Chicago.
Seth Curcio: So Mike, its been almost a year and half since you participated in the DailyServing 1000 DAYS exhibition at the Scion Installation gallery space in LA. What have you been up to lately? Tell me a little about the projects that you have been working on?
Michael Rea: After LA, I was out in San Francisco for a solo show at a down town office building 101 California. After that, I was a group show at Western Exhibitions where I showed the Tasvo Maneaters Part 1 which later went on to show at Next art fair in Chicago. Last spring, my work was exhibited in a group show at the Contemporary Arts Museum in Houston. The show was curated by Vallerie Cassel-Oliver and was titled Hand+Made The Performative Impluse in Art and Craft. For the show at CAMH, I rebuilt the instruments for my 2004-05 performance piece I Yell Because I Care. The Instruments were displayed along with a video of the performance. After returning for the show in Houston, I began work on a solo show at Ebersmoore Gallery. Around August I took a break and traveled to Darmstadt, Germany to build a site specific sculpture as part of a residency/exhibition called Forest Art. After returning in September I seem to have spent every waking moment in the studio preparing for the show at Ebersmoore Gallery.
SC: In addition to your exhibition at Ebersmoore, you are included in the exhibition Inside Out at the Northern Illinois University’s Art Museum. Tell me a little about what is on view at each show.
MR: Well the show at the NIU art museum is a group show curated by Karen Brown, a faculty member in NIU’s art department. All of the work in the show has a connection in some way to clothing/garments. There is a real nice variety of work in the the show. The two pieces that I am showing are Olympia and a Prosthetic Suit for Stephen Hawking W/ Japanese Steel. While Olympia seems to fit into the show a little more traditionally due to the use fabric and latch-hooking, It was really nice to show the the Stephen Hawking suit in this context.
The exhibition at Ebersmoore Gallery consists of work I made over the last year. In the main gallery space there is a large cannon like structure titled Benita. The cannon begins in the gallery and penetrates through the gallery wall and the living space adjacent to the galley pointing towards an exterior window. Surrounding the cannon are multiple kegs, a bong, and a collar and chain tethered to the gun. There is also a scope a top the cannon, which has a video loop of a shower scene taken from the film Stripes. Oddly enough the video’s composition is rather similar to that of Les demoiselles D’avion. Viewers are invited to climb up and sit in the cockpit of the cannon. In the living space along with the 20′ barrel I have a few works on paper, which I have worked on throughout the last year.
SC: Much of your work is derived from, or abstractly references specific films. Constructing these objects out of wood essentially renders them useless, and they become stand-ins for real and imagined forms. So, I’ve got to ask, if you could activate these sculptures who would you like to see tethered to a death star-like ray gun surrounded by multiple kegs and a bong, and what would he or she being doing?
MR: Well I was considering using a muscular young man at the opening, but did not have time to place and filter the Craig’s List ad. I wanted my friend’s brother to do it, but he moved away from Chicago. He would have been perfect. Stylish, bitchy, young, works out all the time, and parties when he is not at work or in the gym. I figure I would have had him wear an outfit he would have normally worn to work at Sidetracks, and just had him drink, flirt and pout.
SC: Since you have had such a productive year culminating in the residency in Darnstadt and then these concurrent exhibitions in Chicago, what do you think will be the next object that you will tackle in the studio?
MR: Well I have been talking about making a video. A short remake of the pottery scene from Ghost. The pottery wheel will be replaced with a table saw. I suspect the dust sticking to flesh, respirators, and ear protection may spice things up in an aesthetically pleasing fashion. I have also been thinking about making a pin ball machine.