Sonotube Forms: Contemporary Art and Transport

At the Contemporary Arts Forum. Shows through August 26.

"Ah- Vamos" by Quint-n Rivera Toro.

For this summer group show, Contemporary Arts Forum has commissioned 35 works based on the Sonotube, the cardboard cylinder used for the transport of art. Each participating artist was sent an empty Sonotube with the request that something related to “nomadism, interconnectedness, networks, and globalization” be returned, along with instructions for gallery installation. Some of the artists involved, such as Keith Puccinelli, Robert Heckes, and Jennifer Figg, are familiar in Santa Barbara. Others, like Rashawn Griffin, Corin Hewitt, and Lisi Raskin, represent what’s happening on the international circuit that’s fed by the top art schools.

The Sonotube makes a good point of departure for artists on the border between sculpture and process. Peter Cole’s “Dark Star Souvenir” (2007) drains the restless energy out of obsessive-compulsive collecting and concentrates it into a symbol of absolute inertia-a dark star. Corin Hewitt’s “More Than You Asked For” (2007) is a Sonotube filled with a Play-Doh-like mass of urban waste, gathered in Brooklyn and sealed into dark and greasy solidity by an amalgam of concrete, urethane, and corn syrup. Hewitt-the Richard Serra of gunk-rivals urban post-nature with his concoction of alienating sludge.

Keith Puccinelli takes the most dramatic step toward repurposing the tube by stuffing one end with coarse bristles. His “SOS” (2007) is an elegant monochromatic abstract painting on unstretched canvas accompanied by the giant Sonotube brush he used to paint it.

Some artists used the opportunity of this show to reflect indirectly on the changing circumstances of the artistic career that the Sonotube might be seen to symbolize. The most memorable of these metafictions is “Ah- Vamos” (2007), a scrolling horizontal photograph by Quint-n Rivera Toro. In the center of the image is the artist, swimming underwater along what appears to be a set of infinite lane lines in an endless pool. The gesture renders the peculiar anxieties attendant on a post-globalization career in the art world as a physical fact, something as real and immediate as holding your breath. It reveals the impress of the Sonotube form only by its horizontal orientation and curling edges-a subtle victory for the postmodern virtues of silence, cunning, and exile.

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