September 2017: Franklin Cain-Borgers and Laura Thatcher

In Blog By by Regina Zehner On November 1, 2017

Franklin Cain-Borgers and Laura Thatcher, On an Island with You, performance and multimedia installation



Franklin Cain-Borgers and Laura Thatcher’s collaborative exhibition, On an Island With You, invites the viewer into a surreal landscape. A manifesto contributed by both artists, describes the world they are presenting to the viewer. The manifesto acts as a conceptual list, detailing the idea of memory, time, and the private self versus public appearance and other’s perception. Also expressed are references to the way online networks produce a false reality, tied closely to the physical plane and the ideas of corporate self-commodification through technology. The ideas are expressed in the gallery through isolated, grayscale walled structures, a performance on opening day that was both ephemeral and contemplative and videos that appear to be an abstracted narrative.



Acting as focal points in the installation, videos are landmarks that lead the viewer from space to space. Dotted throughout the show as projections on the wall-like structures and as images on screens, the videos are fuzzy, filled with blurry nostalgia that asks the viewer to contemplate what exactly they’re viewing.  A cool, muted palette inhabits the spaces, which, could connect to a post-modern aesthetic. One video titled – Bonus Features, is tucked away in the bathroom, absorbing its own focused energy around the idea of public/private spheres.  



Franklin Cain-Borgers and Laura Thatcher, On an Island with You, performance and multimedia installation



The physical objects in On an Island with You, are distanced, producing a minimalist effect. The work invites the viewer to think about their own opinions and attachments to the virtual networks that rule our physical plane of existence. Photos placed on the grayscale sculptures act as remains of the virtual landscape, but then, are presented as physical objects in the show. This investigates the idea of how our physical bodies react to images, blending how daily life is influenced by these images that circulate through invisible networks. For instance, a projection is played on separate structures of two people walking on a path. The video that play was recorded by the artists, then edited into a reversing loop and during the performance, the structures were separated, creating a physical distance for bodies in IRL and the immaterial objects taken from the past.



Franklin Cain-Borgers and Laura Thatcher, On an Island with You, performance and multimedia installation



The performance that took place on the opening day had an quiet, ephemeral feeling as it tied the immaterial and physical subjects through series of acts and cues. The performers interacted with the physical objects in a way that complimented them, giving them a purpose that would otherwise be imperceptible while the murmuring of the installed videos added an expansive, background quality. Shuffling in calculated steps to either pick up foam boxes that were seated on the wall, or using their endurance to hold up a projector, the performers were concentrated in their movements. One of the more unexpected aspects of the artwork were the performers’ clothing; pictures were sewn within hidden parts of fabric that, once sprayed in water, would come through the white fabric. The pictures placed were other screenshots from the videos and instead of being frozen to the sculptures, the images became organic with each step from one of the performers. Against one of the windows in the gallery, there was a small, square cutout that performers gazed out of as people walked by the gallery; a square that captured the scene just like the video screens on the inside.



Most of the time, one performer wore socks that were bolted to the bottom of the bin, soaking their feet in a small pool of water, gazing around the room at nothing in particular. At the end of the performance, the performer slipped off their socks, leaving them in the plastic bin. Overtime, the water evaporated and left traces for the viewer to discover. Throughout the performance, a cake lay on the floor of the gallery. The image of the turkeys in the cage was on top of the cake and at the end of the performance, as an end cue, the cake was dispersed to the audience.



Franklin Cain-Borgers and Laura Thatcher, On an Island with You, performance view Franklin Cain-Borgers and Laura Thatcher, On an Island with You, performance and multimedia installation



The juxtaposition of the immaterial of the show such as the videos and the performance in relation to the material aspects like the physical structures suggest there are comparisons to memory and imagery. The guard tower housing a projection that plays a video against one of the structures and wall, is a prime example. One of the performer, held up the projection using their feet to physically manipulate the display of the image. The physical aspect of holding the projector in the performance determined how the image would project and as well held control over how the image affects the structures. On an Island With You poses questions rather than answers them. The space of the gallery is to present, to record and to remember the dialogue of the show. Thoughts of how our identity is closely tied to the image and how our physical bodies interact with images on a daily basis.  What the viewer will discover is the remains of the art after the performance, and to interpret it. The structures, the foam and the images act as traces, and as marks that build the world, the island both artists envisioned.