Micah Hesse at Polansky Gallery

Micah Hesse
Polansky Gallery | Brno
Curated by Christina Gigliotti
28 March – 2 June 2018
Full exhibition documentation on Art Viewer
Photos by Jan Kolsky

For the inaugural exhibition of Polansky Gallery’s newly opened space in Brno, Micah Hesse has prepared three new animated video works.

Each of the works poses a question originating in the curious musings of a wandering mind. The work Air Dryer imagines what might hide behind the unnecessarily large and ineffective hand dryers found in most public restrooms. Why are the cases for hand dryers so big, when hair dryers, on the other hand, perform the same function with a much more compact form?

In Hesse’s work, a potential cover-up is revealed: vintage hair dryers are fastened to the interior casings and operate as the functional element of the dryer. With the outer shell removed, the superfluous space is explored as a formal canvas of injection moulded plastic matrices, screws, and pseudo-functional wires.

In What You Wore to Work, scenes of fluffy, questionably fashionable sweaters dangle softly in a light breeze, while a simple, yet judgmental question lingers incessantly: “You wore that to work?”. The question, conveyed in the form of a single subtitle, is never spoken aloud, nor does its presence on screen ever cease. It drones on indefinitely like a persistently lurking thought.

Office culture demands conformity in behavior and uniform. Pushing the envelope is usually discouraged and met with stares of (real or perceived) disapproval from judgmental colleagues. Consciously, many of us will have been subject to anxious self-censorship when facing our wardrobe and deciding what to wear to work. Unconsciously, many of us have also fallen victim to the archetypal dream (or nightmare) of arriving at our workplace naked. In What You Wore to Work, the dream is not arriving naked, on the contrary, the dream conjures an arrival at work wearing one of the colorful sweaters that are on display in the video.

In the work Choo Choo, a model train set finds itself in the spotlight, surrounded by camera flashes and off-screen reporters. The interviewers place the the animated yet inanimate locomotives on the spot with questions that innocent steam engines can only respond to with blows of their steam whistles.

Trains and train stations are a ubiquitous motif in romantic narratives. This motif clashes with the innocent nature of the miniaturized train set that derives its pleasure from the dependable routine of a looping track, as well as the hobby-like joy of its construction.

The questions hint at vague romantic incidents. A brief encounter on a train? A missed connection? It becomes apparent that several connections are missed: from the two locomotives circling the station on a single track in opposite directions (yet narrowly avoiding crashes), to the ongoing interview with its severed bridge of understanding, and even the mismatch of the architectural style of the station itself.

Text by Christina Gigliotti