A Curated Elephant: VOX VII
Posted: 8/14/11

If six people tell about parts of the same thing, can we say we know the thing ourselves? It seems not, but what is the name for this kind of acclimated distance/intimacy? Below are six reactions to works in Vox VII, this year’s iteration of Vox Populi’s yearly group exhibition.  Reading it despite not having seen the show, it recalls the old parable about the blind men and the elephant, as a group trying to come to an understanding of what they just felt (in our case saw), without ever a satisfactory conclusion.  Which isn’t to say their conclusions were incomplete, just that they perhaps were never able to see the elephant for what it was, or rather, for what the sighted knew it to be.

More a response than a review or a summary, what follows manages to put together a picture that is complete, its accuracy (or lack thereof) in representing VOX VII ultimately beside the point. There are recurring themes of a search for authenticity, a comic self-awareness, and a keen sensitivity to the potential chasms behind the veneers of everyday certitude. These things might come from the work, maybe from the writers, and likely from we the readers and viewers, but almost certainly they are fully formed at the intersection of those three positions. We’re all in this together, just trying to make our own sense of things.

Mike Treffehn


There is an irony immediate and palpable to Ben Goddard's photograph of above: a blue expanse, revealing iTunes advertisement in skywriting.

It is a sponsored, quiet moment. The corporation co-opting nature—our sky merely servicing a music provider.

In the image, we see the infinite become tangible, or at least, downloadable: charged to your credit card.

The written smoke, though, is temporary, its phrase ephemeral--Goddard snapped the photograph in the way a haiku aims to describe a fleeting experience with nature.

Written in the Sky
Your Apple Dreams Feel Urgent
Ninety-Nine Cents, plz.

New Jay-Z/Kanye
Is that grill, gold, pixels? Them
Speakers on my Droid.

Like "Surrender, Dorothy"
The words emerge and
command you, yours / now, 4evs

Emily Davidson


"If you meet me, have some courtesy, have some sympathy, and some taste”
-Mick Jagger
“Sympathy for the Devil.”

Ben Pederson’s video (please) allow me to introduce myself is deceptively simple, and as it suggests, it deserves a closer look. The artist presents a self-portrait, dissected to reveal something that calls to mind a medieval anatomy illustration. The corporeal body is conflated with the mystical and the hilarious. The piece successfully delivers pathos, sincerity and humor in just the right doses– creating a tonic that is curious and bizarre. Pederson’s videos, sculptures, and drawings are worth checking out on his blog, Benforce.

Giles Hefferan


Lindsay Wraga's After The Fall depicts the axis at which one thing ends and another begins.  From a compost of human bodies dying and fucking in a soup of wormy hula-hoops, grow brick towers reaching to the heavens for solace or out of repulsion by the grime underneath.  Wraga's very own Tower of Babel, her united people speaking one language.  Through their confusion of tongues apathy not remorse is apparent.  Significantly, at the top of the painting one lone figure, dick out, surveys the scrapheap - its bottom burnt and its towers to be swallowed and eroded with time.

Stuart Lorimer


In front of Milana Braslavsky’s Red Skirt I consider pantsing one more time:

Pantsing is a crucial act of passage in some cultures. Socially violent in a way that only teens can be socially violent, it buffers the disjunction between a vanishing sexless innocence (i.e. lame) and adulthood’s encroaching erotic horizon (i.e. awesome.)  But soon pantsing’s popularity wanes as voluntary pants removal (i.e. doin’ it) becomes a viable alternative.  HOWEVER, in some cultures adult pantsing continues as a ritual of habit.  The physic energy of adult pansting HOWEVER is markedly different. What was originally an act of transitional catharsis, is now a desperate yearning for that same pre-lapsarian period; a time when that mysterious sexual horizon was full of awesome care-free potential, and not (as we learn later) a complex territory enmeshed with emotion, confusion, and responsibility.

Matt Kalasky


If my human emptiness is
Indeed a christian appropriated
Gesture of despondent smooths closure;

The black bile in my gut burgeons
Because the bird is not a bird?

A canary?
A flightless crane?

If the parts do not constitute the whole
There is no enduring soul
I am still convinced the rest of it is
Around here somewhere?

Nothing survives becoming
An art object?
The gallery is a graveyard
If this ideological bird-suit apparatus
Becomes a still life
Does it stop colonizing and characterizing
My spent childhood?

Is that where the mirror is?
Behind the absence?

If the subjective clarifies the true potency
Of a symbol
Then it must become a nothingness
The darkness of the constituent is seductive
And so is that

Mike Mullin


Expecting disorder from a large, emerging artist group show, Gallery 1 at Vox surprises with coherent theme: awkwardness in the presence of fantasy and nostalgia.

The middle-aged men stiltedly reclining in the airplane chairs of Jordan Graw's cool-toned paintings, cast smiling stares into an imaginary space where Ashlee Ferlito's painting Beautiful Letdown hung across the way, could hang, well... beautifully. Ferlito's rendered rainbow line drips noddingly to Color Field painting in specific, and to an uncomfortable desire for the evasive aesthetic and ethos of the 60's/70's, in general. Jessica Vaughn's horizontal stack of grocery store pallets stands between the two wall works, morphing red and blue into violet, and sculptural into painting. It is the physical center over and around which the Ferlito and Graw’s paintings converse. Dustin Metz's Room with a View pushes an off-kilter, subjective perspective that seems between dream and memory, part taqueria, part artist palette, part paranoid stoner. Bud McNichol's Soaring Jump into the Game responds with more intentional naivete in rendering of a snowy, urban pastoral, adding a dash of glitter for good measure to complete the subtle magic.

Suzanne Seesman

319 N 11th St # 3
Philadelphia, PA 19107
July 8-31, 2011


Fighting Kissing Dancing

Urbanism at PAFA

Mike Mills' Beginners and Miranda July's The Future

Slutwalk Philadelphia