When an exhibition is denigrated by being held in an underground exhibition space, then the concept of a basement gallery is an oxymoron. One such unfortunate circumstance is in Marc-Alexandre Dumoulin’s The Innocents at the Ve.sch. Here the combination of the cave-like environment and the severe lighting strong-arm Dumoulin’s sculptures resulting in being re-contextualized to hipster bar props.
Looking like stalagmites that evolved from the gallery’s floorboards, three large sculptures stand in the main space. These works are principally black and white and made of spray paint, cardboard, foil, imitation flowers, ribbons and confetti. Both the materiality and the subjects depict a predictable medley for an artist working with Romantic themes, including an earthy tree stump, a gothic organ, and mineral growths.
In the back room is projected Dumoulin’s looping video also titled The Innocents. In this piece, a young woman takes a nighttime walk outdoors passing brush and ornate fences. The only light source for the walking figure is a spotlight seemingly held by the videographer. The crux of this work is the dark/light duality, but the creepy scene makes an unfortunate and dull Blair Witch Project allusion.
Though Dumoulin’s artist statement proposes a position of framing ambiguity, his follow through is un-substantive. It is not the un-ironic approach that is to blame, but the easy decisions and lack of a narrowed investigation leaving Dumoulin’s work looking less like Jay Heikes and more as Petah Coyne. Beyond the failures of this exhibition, the strength of Dumoulin’s practice is the play of material in his DIY constructions.
Ve.sch, Schikanedergasse 11 1040 Wien, 28.05. – 16.06.2009