A missed connection is only missed in the eye of the beholder. Life is made up of connections, both missed and not. But how is it that we understand a connection is missed? How is it that we assign it such a definition?
Sometimes And Sometimes Not brings together a variety of artwork that does not necessarily have similar themes or mood and displays them on two walls, salon style. Each week, the artwork is rearranged on the wall, allowing it to draw different connections with both other artwork and visitors of old and new.
In this disarray, the audience is engaged by creating their own connections and themes between the artwork. They are then invited to write down what they consider the theme of the week may be which will then be displayed on a monitor.
Whatever these themes may be, the exhibit carries the message that all connections are perceived. There is only a connection because we say there is. We define these connections based on our past, present, and emotions regarding the future. Even connections we considered to be “missed,” are missed for a reason.
Displaying along side the pieces will be various issues of 9hr38 (pronounced nine thirty-eight), a magazine project which allowed artists to submit artwork based on their interpretation of each issue’s topic. Examples of these topics are: Things Your Mother Told You, Missing Animals, The Moon, Fever, and Children’s Games. 9hr38 and Sometimes And Sometimes Not are both collections of work brought together by Tuan Pham. It is interesting to note that Tuan Pham does not consider the pieces to be his artwork but rather their display, their interaction with the audience, and the connective and emotional glue that binds them together. It is easy to see that Pham draws his inspiration for both 9hr38 and Sometimes And Sometimes Not from his earlier collage work. In this work, he brings together disparate resources to create compositions that showcase a certain emotion. From this earlier body of work, Pham brings a design aesthetic and mixing of styles and media.
Also displaying work in this gallery are Miranda July and Adrian Tomine. Both artists are well-known for their examination of human relationships and finding what is peculiar in the mundane or mundane in the peculiar.
Concerning the theme (or lack of) for the exhibit and his practice, Pham states: I believe that sometimes people do not understand that our connections in life are really just our projections. As humans, we require the building of a structure in our lifetime; A web that connects everything to everything else. Whether these connections are physical or emotional, empathetic or apathetic, we need them to survive. There is an underlying purpose all of these connections serve and I want everyone to look for it. Whether or not we find it is not important, but our acknowledgment of its existence is imperative.
With Sometimes and Sometimes Not, I hope to create a collection of artwork and names that we do not normally associate with each other, mimicking how life can sometimes bring unexpected factors together. The art here has a multiplicity in its level, letting you look at their connective web as close as or as far from as you wish.
Untitlted (Polar Bear and Man)
Excerpt from Shortcomings (Adrian Tomine)
One of Eleven Heavy Things (Miranda July)
Walking around in the Chicago night with the friends I’ve made, I notice the smoke wafting through our group. I watch it draw out from the cigarette held between fingers and passed from one to another. I watch the smoke, how it dances on everyone’s shoulders and hair before vanishing into the warm air. It dawns on me then, nearly everyone that I’ve made friends with smokes. In my group of friends back home, almost no one smoke, and some are are even against smoking. They dislike the taste, the smell, how its scent clings onto thread, and how unhealthy it is.
A few blocks later, another cigarette is lit and passed around. I don’t smoke for all the obvious reasons. I find it unhealthy, expensive, and unnecessary. But then I can’t seem to explain those moments where in great stress, I think to myself about how I want to drop everything and get a pack. How in the heat of a moment, in the frustration of an argument, I just want a cigarette. I think that goes to show what kind of thoughts cigarette companies and the media have placed into my head. My boyfriend jokingly predicts I’ll start smoking in Chicago. I deny his claims but it does make me ponder on how an environment and its inhabitants can change a person and their habits. I start to wonder what kind of things Chicago will do to me and I wonder if any of these changes will be permanent.
We jay walk across the street to get to the train station. Two people linger behind, taking the final puffs before stomping the cigarette out. Where do all the stomped cigarettes roll to? At the party, everyone is smoking. I take a long time finishing my only can of PBR.
On Wednesdays, I have an art history from 1 to 4. It takes place in the Columbus auditorium, which I have to pass by the Crown Fountain to get to. On a good, warm day, you can find a number of people (children especially) running amok in its water. Having passed it so many times now, I’ve grown accustomed to this sight. Except today, as I passed by the bushes on its edge, I saw a man holding a boy (I assumed his child) who was urinating. It was not strange because his son was urinating, but because of the way he was holding him. It was similar to watching someone drag a large bag of flour or rice.
Now I don’t know who else could see this happening and I’m not the kind to draw attention to such a strange sight but there was something about the whole situation that drew me in, that kept my eyes perplexed. Whenever I had to urinate outside a restroom, for whatever reason, I felt a certain discomfort. Even if I was in the middle of the wilderness, there was a feeling of being watched. A mixture of embarrassment and hastiness, as if the woodland creatures could be offended and gossip. In this moment, I felt connected to these two figures: the man and the boy. The kind of connection people feel when they watch a balloon fly away or when you spin a coin or roll a die and everyone’s eyes are fixated on it.
I shuffled through the crowded cross walk in a hurry to get to class. In class, we spoke briefly on Hinduism and the concept of destruction as rebirth rather than the end. Why do humans think that they are so important that their possible end must mean the end to the rest of existence? I wonder how many people are watching the slides and if this number is larger or smaller than the number of people who saw the man and the boy.