The medium is the message," coined by Marshall McLuhan, serves as the impetus for Brantley Ellzey's show "Pulp Fiction," on view at L Ross Gallery. It's an interesting point, and, essentially, every artist can be placed in one of two groups: artists whose materials dictate the idea and artists whose ideas dictate the materials.
Ellzey falls into the former group. He has been creating his signature works of tightly rolled pages from magazines for more than 10 years. For the most part, these three-dimensional pieces have been confined to a glassed frame. Recently, Ellzey started experimenting with freestanding and wall-mounted forms without frames, and three of these works are included in this exhibition. The largest is For Sale, at eight feet and made from more than 8,000 pages of the February 2013 issue of Crye-Leike Realtors' Homebuyer's Guide to the Greater Mid-South.
Two other pieces, Wham and Zonk!, are medium-sized wall-mounted pieces made from vintage comic books — playful deconstructions, or in this case, reconstructions of comic book onomatopoeia. These pieces are coated with a varnish that not only shields the paper from dust but also adds to the vintage quality. I can see these works being popular among the middle-aged nerd fanboys who frequent comics conventions.
Ellzey's The New Black and Wintour White come from pages of the September 2012 issue of Vogue. These pieces could have easily been included in the recent "Singular Masses" exhibit at the Memphis College of Art as they make for an interesting conversation about body, race, and gender roles that fill the pages of the magazine.
Also this month at L Ross is Ian Lemmonds' "Bio-illogical," which includes photographs as well as installation pieces.
Lemmonds' work, like Ellzey's, falls into the category of the media dictating the idea. This is especially evident in the installation piece Untitled, which features plastic toy birds worn from play by a child.
According to Lemmonds, "Each of the birds shown here were collected over a three year period, and each has been uniquely damaged by a child. Two patterns emerge: one of mass-production (both the plastic birds and the children), and one of behavior (the behavior of the children in damaging the birds). And while these patterns exist, the manifestation of them provides uniqueness, as seen when the birds are presented together."
Lemmonds' Giving/Receiving consists of 16 plaster-cast, outstretched hands, the universal gesture for giving and receiving. The piece offers several questions that are difficult to answer. Is everyone simply looking for a handout? Are there just too many people with needs to help them all?
Lemmonds is primarily known for his photography, and he says that while he prefers making photographs, "some things can't be photos," to convey a point or mood. That said, Lemmonds will be taking the Untitled birds home with him after the exhibition, as he has finally figured out how to present them in photo form in a way that makes sense. The medium indeed dictates the message.
Through March 31st