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Kris Pilcher's installation "I am not a Wimpish American."

Review: Last chance to see Eyedrum’s ingenious “Existing Conditions”

 Lauren Peterson and Nick Adams’ Forced Perspective
Lauren Peterson and Nick Adams’ Forced Perspective

Eyedrum debuts its new digs in south Downtown with Existing Conditions, an ingenious exhibition whose participants make use of the materials left on site by prior tenants Ideal Music Company.

Open for a final appearance on August 22 from 7 to 11 p.m., it’s well worth seeing before it’s replaced on Saturday by Exi’ting Conditions, an auction of everything from instrument cases — 240 of them — to vintage office equipment.

Most of the materials in these site-specific installations were salvaged from the abundant materials — from signage and invoices to music stands — the music company left behind. Also on the abandoned premises were no fewer than 430 fortified-wine bottles, which Kris Pilcher has transformed into dramatically lit stack sculptures surrounded by patriotic detritus inspired by the owner’s handwritten threat to shoplifters, “I am not a wimpish American.”

Kris Pilcher's installation "I am not a Wimpish American."

Kris Pilcher’s installation I am not a Wimpish American

Most of the other installations respond directly to the semiruined contents of the building. Tom Haney’s And the Music Plays On transforms instrument cases into displays featuring fictional handwritten notes from imaginary musicians. Brian Bannon and Bill Taft have responded creatively to the site’s actual history, intermingling vintage sheet music with photocopied pages from W. E. B. Du Bois and an Italian Futurist manifesto.

Some of the most stunning installations, however, simply take advantage of the freedom to transform a space without constraints. Dana Haugaard has contributed an upstairs sound installation that gently shakes the surrounding architecture using low-frequency tones rather than sheer volume.

The most sophisticated spectacle is Lauren Peterson and Nick Adams’ Forced Perspective. The parallelograms painted on the walls, when viewed at the correct angle through empty frames hanging in midroom, turn into disorientingly 3-D framed monochrome paintings. One of them replicates Malevich’s Black Square and hangs in a corner at the ceiling as that painting was.

The overall multiroom space is raw and funky, but such things as the papers scattered on the floor are most likely there for effect. However, sometimes it is difficult to tell the difference between what the artists rearranged and what the owner left in unintentionally artful disarray.


Auction: 5:30 p.m., August 23. Preview: 1 to 5 p.m. 88 Forsyth Street.