Set Flats, 2018
aluminum, steel cable, hardware
108 x 145 x 2 inches
Metronome Lights, 2018
paper, MDF, tool clips, hardware, warm and cool light bulbs, sockets, aluminum enclosure, timer
9 1/4 x 14 inches
Alternating warm and cool lights.
Also like an x-ray lab or similar medical facility.
Metronome Light (Squirrel Cage), 2018
paper, MDF, tool clips, hardware, warm and cool light bulbs, sockets, aluminum enclosure, timer, wire, chipboard flap, printed steel
9 1/4 x 14 x 4 inches
The cage. Actual repeated element from 2015 or sufficient motif?
one anagram of eight...
Fire Curtain, 2018
8 anagrams for the word "fire curtain," aluminum, steel hinge, display
24 x 30 inches
Bus Shelter Box Set (Sidewalk User Behavior), 2016-2018
powder coated aluminum, chipboard, paper, bookbinders cloth, rubber bands, silicone, ribbon, button wire, powder coated and printed steel, ball bearings
10 1/4 x 15 x 15 inches
Like that pocket-sized, plastic game where all the tiny balls are meant to stop in each of the paper cut outs. A delicate balancing act to be sure...
In having viewed two installations of Stecklows' work three years apart (2015 and 2018), both in the same spaces at M+B, I have found common ground in thinking about a game of mouse trap (the board game literally and also more figuratively), perhaps even more so in this recent showing, a staging of works that resemble the tenor of interstitial, public spaces. In 2015, a small cage on the floor appears curiously repurposed as a light fixture here in the 2018 version. Whether it be the exact same element makes no difference to me (save clever resourcefulness), because its appearance and also its shift between floor and ceiling fixture seems worth considering independently; the works seem to address more of the vertical space this time around. From the press release, one gets the idea that this exhibition, notably about waiting, embodiment, and mobility, leaves one feeling like a rat in a cage, again the labyrinth/maze as one also can't help but also think about Beckett et al.
Such remembered experiences as bus transportation, waiting and navigating public spaces is reasonably successful in this present installation as one circumnavigates the exhibition attempting to make sense of it. The checklist offers discrete objects to be considered but the works themselves, layered one on top of another, do not appear in any way intelligible as such. Hence, supermarkets, bus stops/rides, as highly stimulating, thought-provoking and chaotic. While potentially interesting to think about parts, wholes, contingencies and how such things organize/constellate, it simultaneously seems potentially confusing and likely unnecessary to call objects out individually, especially given that the entire arrangement is a staged set, staging grounds. It's in the title and certainly its appearance as theater is unmistakable. I was actually ok treating the work as one large installation that could only be appreciated and understood as a whole for this brief moment in time. I'm also willing to consider its re-staging at some future time elsewhere, certainly not broken apart with missing pieces. It seems important that the "game" be "played" as a complete set. Breaking it apart and distributing it piecemeal seems too far scattered a notion to consider entropy thoughtfully, importantly as aspects of the exhibition suggest. That said, the work seems more about a desired thread of continuity between lived experience and its constituent, contingent representations. So, the checklist was more confusing than clarifying, which could easily have been yet another point of the show.
The object/installation identities issues aside, the raised ideas and viewing experience were worthwhile as stasis and dynamism interacted spatially. The metronomic warm/cool Metronome Lights on the one hand provided predictability, and Fire Curtain offered variability while also lending a funny image of, let's call it, bus route communication aesthetics. Somehow it resonates with the same level of signification about direction, street literally. Where are we/am I headed anyway, the exhibition and this rambling post seem to ask? One possible answer may very well have been discovered while sitting on the provided bale of hay at the entrance. For whatever reasons, rather than watching drama unfold thence from the front, I did not elect to sit and wait; I walked (and wondered).