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Who Carefully Made This Mess?

Two installations at Solvent Space depict festivity and its quiet aftermath.



Wow and Flutter," the title of Rachel Hayes' fabric installation on Solvent Space's exterior walls, says it all. The work, constructed of brightly colored rectangular swaths of fabric, is all about formal beauty and visual pleasure.

It is undeniably funny: What could be more absurd than dressing a squat, no-frills industrial building in colorful frippery? The pure celebratory feel of Solvent Space's facelift is contagious as it transforms an architectural wallflower into the life of the party.

If Hayes' exterior is in the midst of a wild party, Margrét Blöndal's interior installation reads more like the day after. Pockets of isolated debris scattered here and there suggest specific, but now indecipherable activities. A mass of white paper, balled-up and suspended with fluorescent pink plastic tape, resembles a piĀ¤ata smashed to bits, the candy snatched up, useless remains left behind.

The subdued hush of Blöndal's installation asks for careful attention. Everything is quietly, gently meaningful, each element worth a second or third look. Where Hayes' lively colors pull attention away from the building's cracks and flaws, Blöndal's restrained work deflects attention back into the arena in which it is situated. Every fissure, smudge and incidental feature of the building's innards becomes ripe with interpretation. Even shadows cast by the installation carry visual weight and read like objects in their own right. That a shadow can possess mass and dimensionality equal to real objects is remarkable, and it suggests other intangibles: unseen infrastructures, fading memories or half-intuited truths.

Time and human touch are ever-present in Blöndal's work. Her fragile, thoughtful constructions could only have been made through human intervention — whether in poetic revelry or child's play. Yet they also allude to natural processes of decay and transformation. They could have been blown in or washed up by a recent storm. Or perhaps they were left lingering there for years, slowly unraveling under the weight of time. This delicate interlacing of human and natural agency is compelling and points to the complex ways those two worlds co-exist.

The interplay between Hayes' lush exterior and Blöndal's measured interior creates an interesting foil that heightens what is essential in each. Both works possess a certain playfulness, but one speaks in a gentle whisper, the other in a whoop of pleasure. S

Solvent Space at Plant Zero Art Center displays works by Margrét Blöndal and Rachel Hayes through March 10. 827-0984.

Visit Rachel Hayes's website

Visit Margrét Blöndal's website

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