Aligning Driveways and Other Thoughts on Christopher M. Lavery
If there exists a self-proclaimed post-neo-post-fluxus artist in the world it is Christopher M. Lavery. The fact that he would even casually throw the term out there in his artist statement, as though it were the punchline to a joke, conveys a certain humor in the artist derivative of the fluxus title.
Similarly, it is this same sort of modesty and hyper-awareness that allows Lavery’s installation work to linger in a gallery space. I use the word linger, because it is never obtusely awkward nor is it arrogantly cat-calling you from a corner. It works more like an accidental first date— an excited discovery about someone you never had any intention of knowing or understanding.
Even his seemingly coldest piece “It’s Good to Get Out” relieves us with a certain Narnia charm. Lavery built the installation in 2002, to “address the abusive nature of a suburban lifestyle.” His intention was to make the environment as sterile and uncomfortable as possible. Trees suspended horizontally from the ceiling, blinking fluorescent lights, whimpering dogs, and a humid temperature combine to make the space initally uneasy. Yet, conversely, buried underneath all these obstacles, lies something very childlike, something I can only equate with storybook ideas of frozen castles and eternal sleep. There’s a strong and incredibly heartbreaking myth that follows you throughout the space.
Several of his art objects contain this same sense of fantasy and isolation. “Where There Was Something Forgotten” presents four baseball bats frozen in ice, only with time, to be thawed out. The progression is slow and painful, with a natural progression of sorrow that allows the work to breathe and eventually move. Whether it cracks into a space of disappointment, justification, or warmth, depends on the viewer and the viewer’s intent.
In fact, Lavery continuously stays connected to his viewers and their intentions, and often welcomes them into his thought process. He is stated as saying, “Ideas are intangible until spoken in a language that is personally unique to the ‘idea thinker’. The ‘idea consumer’ understands this language in a venue that it is accepted/associated as a ‘stage’; i.e. something more profound than standing in your driveway and saying hello to your neighbor as you take your trash out to the curb.”
It’s this kind of ideology that not only engages but also enhances the power of the work. Instead of dividing the artist from the suburban landscape, Chrisopher M. Lavery immerses the two, to create a result that is collectively stunning-- where flowers, white picket fences, and aligning driveways can grow.
Above Photo: "Where There Was Something Forgotten" Courtesy of Christopher M. Lavery
Visit Christopher M. Lavery online.
Review by Stacy Elaine Dacheux