Thursday, October 20, 2011

Torn and Tattered

The Rag Factory (2011) installation by John Outterbridge at LA><ART

Rags, the word conjures up images of cheap, disposable, dirty cloth. Rags are the opposite of riches.

Rags are the thematic subject of an installation by John Outterbridge at LA><ART, entitled "The Rag Factory." Through the process of assemblage, Outterbridge constructs an environment that explores the manner in which context influences the perception of beauty and value. The humble rags are both the lowly discards of a banal consumerism and the elegant fabrications of an artistic sensibility.

The installation spans two gallery spaces of LA><ART. In Gallery One, Outterbridge has designed a hanging curtain of multicolored, knotted rags, bathed from various angles in brilliant light, a scintillating textile rainbow.

Close up of The Rag Factory installation in Gallery One

An entrancing assemblage of color and texture, Outterbridge transforms the lowly rags into an object of beauty. But a stroll into the next room dispels the glamour.

In Gallery Two, rags revert back to the demeaned stereotype. Discarded in a messy heap in the corner or piled into a homeless person's cart, these debased clothes have none of the grace of those in the prior room. But there is no qualitative difference between the two sets!!!

The Rag Factory (2011) installation by John Outterbridge, Gallery Two

The only differences are in context and presentation, neither of which signifies anything about the material's inherent value. It's as if hanging the rags up like a precious Persian tapestry and putting them in the spotlight creates a magical transformation of essence. They go from rags to riches.

It's an interesting exhibit. And that's why I'm breaking my rule about last minute postings of art shows. This exhibit closes on October 22. So, if you want to catch this engaging installation, then you need to act fast and get over to LA><ART.


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