Solo Show – Steven Brower
24 November 2000 — 12 January 2001
The installation titled ʻVacuumʼ made by Steven Brower for Galleria Franco Noero pulls together ideas about the conventions of exhibition, remote communication and nostalgia using quotidian objects as technological research examples. ʻVacuumʼ is also linked with other recent works by the young New York based artist. These installations are based on the making of objects which reveal the hidden structures of the gallery as exhibition space or ʻwhite cubeʼ, or utilize mechanical devices which depend on commercial activity of the gallery for their function. Generally, these site-specific installations become pseudo laboratories where viewers can engage with Brower's ironic semi-scientific constructions. Concerned with making things as a byproduct of his curiosity in, research of, and experimentation with the quotidian and surrounding environment, Brower generates ʻtraditionalʼ artworks by letting objects be themselves. The gallery's first room is totally occupied by a ʻLunar Excursion Module, Ascent Stageʼ, a nearly full scale mock up of the vehicle used to ferry astronauts to the moon and back during NASA's Apollo space program. While the LM exterior is a faithful rendition of the actual vehicle, the inside reveals its constructed ʻfakeʼ nature as a handmade object. Sensations of emptiness and abandonment are emphasized by the presence of a quiet background voice reciting the poem by Walt Whitman ʻCrossing Brooklyn Ferryʼ, which suggests the artist's presence within the artwork. Inside there is also available a phone connecting with Brower at all times and a sign of ʻemergencyʼ which will allow the viewer to be helped in case of ʻnecessityʼ, if he or she should become depressed, claustrophobic, or disoriented as a result of this encounter with the vacuum which lurks in all art viewing situations. Stepping out of the LM, the viewer enters the rear room of the gallery in which an Apollo A7L extravehicular space suit, rendered at half size, is shown. Also in the room there are a series of drawings and models depicting the functions of the vehicle and some familiar objects involved in various ways with Vacuum: a model of Brower's studio in a vacuum, a rocket filled not with fuel but vacuum-packed coffee, beans, and vacuum-formed containers, and a model of a 19th Century perpetual motion machine called a "hydro-vacuuo engine". An endeavor like the Apollo program harnessed the best minds and most advanced technology in the service of protecting human beings from the vacuum of outer space. However, all the objects made, including the spaceships and space suits were designed to be used once and thrown away, a harbinger of the eventual loss of public support for the program and also a suggestion of the throwaway culture which high technology helps to make possible. And by jamming the gallery with a 'space ship', Brower compares the vacuum of the ideal viewing space with its scientific and industrial counterpart. Steven Brower, born in Washington D.C. in 1969, lives and works in Brooklyn. Heʼs taken part in a series of group shows, including ʻSome Young New Yorkersʼ (1998), and ʻGreater New Yorkʼ (2000) at P.S. 1 in New York, ʻConstruction Drawingsʼ at Kunst-Werke in Berlin (1999), and 'Steven Brower, Urs Frei, Kendel Geers, Annika Stromʼ at Wiener Secession (1999). Among the solo shows are ʻHalf Emptyʼ (1997), and ʻUtilityʼ (1999) at Lombard-Freid Fine Arts in New York. This is his first solo show in Italy.