Sunday, October 24, 2010


Brief and tardy comments on my visit to "Spleen," created by Oreen Cohen, ART CARGO (Jacqueline Levine), and Sarah Allison, formerly on display in the basement of the Moderno, a condo on U St.  The building was not yet in use, so the realtor connected the artists with the space, allowing for the creation of the large installation sculpture in the basement.  I missed the opening evening, which apparently also included incense and wine, but when I arrived, I was all alone in the basement thrumming with loud clanking music and this unweildly beast:  

The piece is constucted from metal, ceramics, balloons, automotive safety glass, and probably a lot of other odds and ends. I was particularly pleased with how gruesome sweet little balloons could become in the context of intestines.

While I didn't have opportunity to speak with the artists, the real estate connection (whose name I can't recall, alas, but was extremely pleasant) who was manning the door upstairs reported that the artists did indeed suffer for their work, and that even safety glass isn't entirely safe; some blood drops on the floor added to the mood.

Inside the glass portion, you can see there is a TV, pulsing with heartbeat-esque music (the shattered insides of a glass house, perhaps, our translucent souls crumbling - add in your own metaphor). This didn't quite work for me - at heart, I don't want to be a media maven, and TVs are too loaded to be otherwise in my mind.  

But I loved the dripping cave of stalactites, a nice dragon-in-the-lair touch.

The piece conveyed a mood and mixed the gruesome with fanciful (balloons! I love balloons!), not a bad way to start an evening. I proceeded down the street to have a rather tasty margarita, feeling oh-so-arty. 

Posted on the the stairway to the basement, the following poem seemed apt. 

Spleen II

by Charles Baudelaire

When the low heavy sky weighs like a lid
Upon the spirit aching for the light
And all the wide horizon's line is hid
By a black day sadder than any night;

When the changed earth is but a dungeon dank
Where batlike Hope goes blindly fluttering
And, striking wall and roof and mouldered plank,
Bruises his tender head and timid wing;

When like grim prison bars stretch down the thin,
Straight, rigid pillars of the endless rain,
And the dumb throngs of infamous spiders spin
Their meshes in the caverns of the brain,

Suddenly, bells leap forth into the air,
Hurling a hideous uproar to the sky
As 'twere a band of homeless spirits who fare
Through the strange heavens, wailing stubbornly.

And hearses, without drum or instrument,
File slowly through my soul; crushed, sorrowful,
Weeps Hope, and Grief, fierce and omnipotent,
Plants his black banner on my drooping skull.

For more info on the work & artists, see the Project Website at Check out the original sketches of the work - fascinating to see the evolution of The Spleen. 

City Paper's blog review:

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