September 24th 2011, I made my way out to the Hatchery – a former airport hanger, a former drug rehabilitation center with a notorious past, a former muslim community center and now a space which approximately 40 artists enlivened for a weekend. The event was curated by: Bill Doherty, Anné M. Klint, Bachrun LoMele, Tom McGlynn.
It was sometimes hard to see the art because the building itself was so facinating – lots of interesting stuff and light for the photographer-geek in me. Whenever I see rooms like this I always think of Jeff Wall’s 1978 photograph ’The Destroyed Room’ – so reality makes me think of a reconstruction.
I met Dori Atlantis – so was able to talk to her about her work. Dori came to the space earlier in the month and collected some of the detritus around the old building and used this as source material for her intervention. She was specifically responding to the use of the building by children and their experiences as part of the building’s dark history. The items she chose were reminiscent of children’s play items or learning tools. She painted these items primary colours and then suspended them using twine and fishing line. Dori was like many of the artists’ whose work was on view, in that she responded directly to the space and its rather unnerving history. There is a history of child-abuse associated with the building during the time the building was used as a drug rehabilitation center.
One of my favourite responses to the building was the work by Bachrun Lomele – he created the illusion of the side of the building using what looked like prints of wood panels. I suspect that his work felt more in tune with the place, because he was able to spend longer at the venue (he was also one of the curators). The individual panels are paper replicas of wood grain; which I am fairly certain are made using some form of printmaking technique. Despite this, each appeared to be unique or not repeated that often, so this was quite a difficult work to produce. Sadly, I only photographed part of the wall.
The video art work by Ron Longsdorf and Rachel Van Pelt also felt connected to the space. Installed in a small horse trailer and filmed also in that trailor, the video loop depicted a woman drawing red lines on her leg. These lines initially reminded one of blood, but it was obviously a red-paint-stick of some kind. At times the woman appeared tied up and interspersed were images of a beetle being observed. Having to peer into the trailor to see the video, we were obviously meant to observe the woman and the observed beetle enhanced that sense. The sound intonations reverberated in the space and kept repeating ‘touch, do not touch’, over and over. The piece was particularly evocative as it was placed in a space where there were known cases of child abuse (during the Synanon, drug rehabilitation years).
Finally, the sound-pieces were some of the most memorable pieces. I wish I had remembered the name of the person who created the radio sound-scape on 90.3FM that accompanied us down the driveway to The Hatchery. The work was very atmospheric and set the tone for the visit. Anna Dempska’s soundscape with a small oak tree was interesting – if a little sad to visually observe. She wrote a description of this piece for the Fresno Bee “I’m creating a sound installation exploring the possibility of a musical collaboration with a plant. I’ll be using sensors and software to gauge an oak’s response to a soundscape I’m creating for the tree, and these responses, as well as ambient weather and and other environmental elements, will help to decide the shape of the music.”
It was well-worth the trip. The evening continued with performances – however as I had started the day with a hike and a swim in the lake, we left before the performances began.