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Review: Trouser House's Salon des Refuses

D. Eric Bookhardt on Trouser House's final exhibit, which examines the roots of the avant-garde

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The 1863 Paris Salon des Refuses was a class act. Composed of artworks rejected from the official Paris Salon, it even included Manet's mega-iconic Luncheon on the Grass. No such notoriety attends the 2011 Trouser House Salon des Refuses, where nothing was ever considered for Prospect.2 in the first place. Instead, Trouser House accepted anything, first-come first-served basis, until all the walls were covered. Beyond democracy, this sounds more like anarchy, yet the show is not without cohesion: everything on the walls is also somewhat off the wall. If the space station could digitally capture the dreams of sleeping eccentrics, this is what they might look like. In Marine Life Organizes to Test Its Concerted Supernatural Powers on Outdated Rig, a painting by Santa Fe's Lisa Corradino, we see turtles and pelicans beaming evil eye death rays at an oil rig even as Barcelona's Pere Ibanez's photograph, Les Plaisires, depicts a voluptuous nurse in a bloody bikini brandishing a hypodermic in her rubber-gloved hand — a theme echoed inferentially in Brandi Couvillion's Gun, Doll, Shriveled Soul assemblage. Edgy works are balanced by others like New York-based Stacey-Robin Johnson's Blue Print For Paradise, a kind of South Bronx Gauguin earth-mother pastiche, par for the course at a place where experimental art coexists with organic farming out back, replete with chickens and yard eggs. Sadly, this grand experiment must now close even though Trouser House founder/director Emily Morrison thought she had followed the rules by operating in a building zoned for commercial use. The city decreed that it must be brought up to the latest commercial code standards, but Morrison cannot afford the costs (and she rents the space). Meanwhile let's hope for divine intervention; Trouser House epitomizes much of what is brave and experimental in New Orleans, and it deserves better than death by red tape. — D. Eric Bookhardt


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