MASS Gallery is pleased to present Public Access, an installation and performance exhibition that re-imagines the white-walled gallery as an anonymous public access television studio. The show opens April 19th, from 9 pm–1 am, and runs through Saturday May 4th. Public Access will feature open-ended performances by dozens of Austin and Texas-based individual and collective artists, musicians, comedians and actors; live events on the opening night; and videos, props, costumes and sets on view during the run of the show. The exhibit is part of the 2013 Fusebox Festival and will serve as the late night festival hub on Friday, April 19.
A site-specific installation built in the gallery includes such archetypal public access spaces as: a kitchen/cooking set, a living room set, a green screen, as well as a technical control room with video and audio equipment running previously captured footage. Using canvas backdrops, digital scenery, cardboard, found furniture, and artist-created objects, the spaces in the transformed gallery space exist somewhere between sculpture, drawing and plausible sets.
Performers have taped shows of varying lengths using the sets, props and backdrops as the environment for their performances. These are in turn screened on televisions in the gallery, set up in the sets where they were shot. In this way, Public Access acts as a multi-disciplinary experiment where artists from different backgrounds come together to produce challenging and inclusive multimedia experiences that expresses what “public access” means to them, both as a historical phenomenon and as a broader concept. The gallery installation has allowed for many different types of live and taped performances, from traditional interpretations of what public access television might mean — Bob Ross, Julia Childs or Charlie Rose — to more satirical, abstract and nonsensical performances that push the boundaries of the medium and seek new paths forward.
The show pays homage to the rich tradition of contemporary artists, such as Austin’s Michael Smith and performance icon, Ann Magnson, who have used the structure of public access television to address issues often marginalized in the art world and popular culture. Historically, public access television, through its openness, low cost-of-entry, and low-pressure atmosphere, ended up presenting an eccentric portrait of a community, especially its subcultures and marginalized groups. This exhibition hopes to do the same: to capture a subset of the artistic and performance community of Texas in a casual, egalitarian context. From feminist workout videos to cooking with dogs to a special meeting of the Animal Facts Club, the performers in Public Access showcase the oddness that underlies the friendly freshness of the Lonestar State.
The exhibition has been conceived and organized by Erin Curtis. Performers participating in Public Access include, but are not limited to: Adrian Mata Anaya, Max Juren, Jules Buck Jones, Lauren Klozman, Drew Liverman, Erick Michaud, Erica Nix, Gretchen Phillips, Andy Rihn, Xochi Solis, John Totman, Tamara Valdez, and Leah Meltzer.
The project is supported by a grant from the Idea Fund though DiverseWorks, Aurora Picture Show and Project Row Houses, funded by the Andy Warhol Foundation.
This project is funded and supported in part by the City of Austin through the Economic Growth & Redevelopment Services Office/Cultural Arts Division believing an investment in the Arts is an investment in Austin’s future. Visit Austin at NowPlayingAustin.com.