“I Throw My Body on This Hot Pile”: Gallery showcases abstract work from several artists

Photo by Vaila DeYoung

Andrew Ringle, Contributing Writer

Eleven artists assembled to explore humanity, time and space in the exhibit “I Throw My Body on This Hot Pile,” offering a unique selection of artistic voices and mediums through lucid storytelling, collecting odd stories and obscure visual concepts. The exhibit is well worth making the climb to the top floor of the Anderson Gallery.

Curated by Patrick Harkin, the exhibit included work from Stephanie DeMer, Ricardo Vicente Jose Ruiz, Yue Nakayama and David Moré, with mediums including digital photography, video and ceramics.

Upon crossing the threshold and entering the room, “I Throw My Body on This Hot Pile” introduces itself with a single-channel video created by Nakayama. Titled “Nobody was Born on September,” the montage presents several nonsensical stories told by eerie computer-generated voices. It is a confusing introduction to the gallery, but it readies visitors for a complicated discussion of life, death and purpose.

Photo by Vaila DeYoung

Neighboring Nakayama’s video is Austin’s “Screen for Cello.” It’s a misshapen cut of speaker cloth pulled tightly across an underlying shape. Protruding from the wall and coated with epoxy, the black mass is ambiguous and menacing. The work can be rediscovered at every angle depending on where the viewer stands.

Another sculpture joins the exhibit with a small ceramic created by Ruiz, titled “I cannot afford bleached eggs, my sleep is interrupted by people I do not know, I will not finish the food in my cupboard.” The lengthy title is appropriate for a piece that confronts many themes in such a small amount of physical space.

“The piece is about a body of work I want to complete about how we as a society register the passing of time,” Ruiz said. “The form is referential to sundials and ancient tableaux while I have adopted a moon-like figure as the manifested form of my insomnia.”

Ruiz sculpted the clay fire during his fellowship at The Oxbow School in Napa, California. It has a rich brown color, adorned with strange runes depicting a half-moon shape and a small sundial.

Ruiz said he wishes to engage in a conversation that organizes measurements of time — excluding clocks and calendars — as “means to adopt a lifestyle changing alongside ecology.”

In the farthest corner from the entryway, DeMer includes an excerpt from her larger project “Casus.” The work explores a plot of 28,000 acres just west of Phoenix, Arizona purchased in 2017 by Cascade Investment LLC. The American investment company is controlled by Microsoft founder and billionaire Bill Gates, and the land is the supposed site of a future city to be designed by Gates.

“‘Casus is a living interrogation of world-ing at the convergence of land ownership, idealism and ecological phenomenon,” DeMer said.

The excerpt found in the Anderson includes photographs of the land and a strata of shredded deeds from the county tax records of the sale. They are cradled within a web of hot pink survey tape that comes to a point around a candle made from unfiltered beeswax.

Before leaving the gallery, there sits a small arrangement of fluorescent lights wrapped around some elbow pipes sprouting from the wall. They are shining onto a plastic figurine in the likeness of a cartoon snowman. There is a solar panel on its base, and as it absorbs the lamplight, the snowman does a little dance, moving its head and arms back and forth in an endless cycle.

The installation from Moré is almost out of place in such an abstract gallery — a plain-looking toy in the presence of mature, abstract mediums. But as it wobbles back and forth and its painted smile glares in the purple light, it hints at a deeper meaning and grins back at those who seek to discern it.

The gallery opened Nov. 15 and will remain open until Dec. 4.

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