In a world inundated by images, ideas, and mindless chatter, it seems we're increasingly drawn to post-apocalyptic, science fiction narratives. At least, that's the case for Dallas-based artist Dwayne Carter. He says there's something alluring in the simplicity of a man, a dog and his gun. "We create a leader, we take care of our friends, it's all about survival," says Carter. He knows it's not a rational idea, but to his mind there's a lot of human life that isn't based in logic. We build identities and even cultures on fully irrational ideas, based on trust or emotional connections. These were all the ideas he invited artists to explore in Irrational City, a group show by local and international artists, opening at the Bath House Cultural Center with a reception from 7-9 p.m. Friday.
For the exhibit, each artist will approach this idea of a futuristic, chaotic world through their personal lens. Carter's work on display will be an extension of his Photo Novellas, a series of zines that uses his artist friends as characters in vivid, dangerous worlds. You'll see blown-up images from his latest, which reimagines Dante's Divine Comedy in Dallas. "Dante and Virgil wander the wilderness of Dallas post-armaggedon," explains Carter. "I think the question is there about whether it was Ebola? Or was it apathy?"
Most of the work on display, in what is likely to be the most wonderfully twisted group show this year, asks more questions than provides answers. Thor Johnson creates a new series of prints, in their typically gory glory; Jeff Parrott sends us into his complicated, colorful brain in his largely abstract paintings; and Randall Garrett sends us through a cracked funhouse mirror with questions of how we build identity, and how we institutionalize labels for those identities.
Other artists in the exhibit depart from the post-apolayptic aesthetic to explore more convoluted questions of cultural irrationality. Mona Kasra uses Internet memes and images to explore how we express ourselves digitally, and the way we attach to messages through sharing and likes. And Colette Copeland engages in video work to explore DADA ("The most irrational, but now fully accepted artistic movement in the 20th century," explains Carter), as well as the male and female ego. She portrays Marcel Duchamp and Adam Wesley George portrays his alter-ego Rrose Selavy for an afternoon gone awry.
For Carter, the variety in artistic creation based on the questions he posed to artists is part of the show's fun. "Some artists fit perfectly into the show, like Thor and Randall," he says. "Others took it as a challenge, like Michael Morris, who pushes his art in a new direction."
Morris ventures into new territory, collaborating with artists to create a digital Exquisite Corpse, a collective assemblage in which the parts of at the whole work are created separately and blindly by each artist involved. Other artists created characters or performances, which are likely to show up at the opening reception. If the exhibit sounds a bit off-center that's exactly how Carter wants it.
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Bear witness to the chaos of Irrational City from 7-9 p.m. Friday, or through August 1 at the Bath House Cultural Center. More at irrational.city.