Amir H. Fallah: Post Stagecraft
On view through Oct. 19
Redux Contemporary Art Center
136 St. Philip St.
Most homes have a designated place where miscellaneous objects are jumbled together like pieces of an elaborate puzzle.
Most of the time, it's a mess. But other times, when you pull everything out and examine it, the puzzle pieces begin to take shape — you see a reflection of who you are and how you live.
For Amir H. Fallah, the pieces of the puzzle represent a voyage from the past to the present, a visual tale that illustrates his interests, heritage, and memory. Post Stagecraft, his new installation at Redux Contemporary Art Center, uses various objects — potted plants, fluorescent lights, glass jugs — to intricately stage a portal into his personal and fragmented world.
Constructed on what seems to be an intentionally haphazard platform of wooden planks, Fallah's installation is visually arresting and frustratingly opaque. The planks are painted black and pink and seem to churn like wet ink underneath the spotty glow of the gallery's lighting. But they also provide a sturdy, three-dimensional stage for the loosely composed materials that comprise this installation's character and narrative.
The character of the installation emerges only after you inspect each object. Initially, when you view the work as a whole, its meaning and purpose are overshadowed by its vertiginous imagery, and you are left confused and intrigued.
But when you look closer, the jagged slabs of driftwood, the photographs and paintings, the strewn rope, and dried dates reveal Post Stagecraft's attempt to use Fallah's character as a narrative tool.
What the narrative says is open to interpretation. Some viewers may see nothing more than a collection of random items spilled across a stage. Others may probe deeper and see their own stories reflected in the work. And still others might decide this installation attempts to tell a story, but is ultimately only a small piece of a larger puzzle that Fallah has yet to assemble.
Even so, it suggests a large coffee table littered the clutter of one's life. In this way, Post Stagecraft succeeds in incorporating forgettable and forgotten objects into a work sustained by memory and reflection.
Screenprinted photographs of Fallah's father as a boy adorn scraps of paper that are cut into the shapes of leaves. Spiky cacti line the platform and act as a kind of border patrol that entices and prevents too much intrusion. Clay sculptures of an overgrown brain, multi-colored triangles, and other abstract shapes wait to be discovered under the cover of aluminum foil and ceramic bowls.
Post Stagecraft is an installation borne out of movement. Fallah uses photographs and artifacts to trace his family's voyage from Iran to the U.S. The result is a grounded-yet-mobile creative process that transcends place.
In constructing this artistic time capsule, Fallah has given his memories a physical place to exist. Whether this installation resonates with viewers will depend on their taste and interpretation. But coming through unequivocally, and making this work as personal as it is cultural, is Fallah's tactile sense of who he is and how he lives. It shows that memory is saturated with emotions, and that emotions fuel the creativity we use to express ourselves.
Fallah hails from Los Angeles and is the founder Beautiful/Decay, a magazine that chronicles contemporary art and its place in society. If Post Stagecraft is an installation that examines the inner workings of an artist's surroundings, "beautiful decay" is an appropriate description for the preservation of art and the fleeting images that inspire it.