The intriguing, dangling sculpture in the Hennepin Avenue lobby of the Walker is also a conversation piece. “Those are manger sheep,” one passerby told me. “Are those stickers?” asked another, pointing to the new window decals. Evocative and oddly familiar, Andy Messerschmidt’s Friend Me/Follow Me: Graze Anatomy (2012), the new installation in the Walker’s “oculus,” looks like some eccentric holiday display: a shrine to psychedelia and the patterns of consumerism. The ingredients in this symmetrical and arresting mish-mash of sculpture, sound-piece and 2-D design are varied and decidedly low-brow: wrapping paper, 63 nativity sheep and several enormous shepherd’s crooks, gold paint and green Astroturf (among other surreal ready-made objects).
Messerschmidt told me that, in order to understand the origins of this work, it was essential to experience Alejandro Jodorowsky’s “disturbing Western” film, The Holy Mountain (1973). Apparently, there is a bearded transvestite in the film with cheetahs instead of breasts. Watch the trailer for said film, and he’s right – the connections do seem to all fall in place (note: the film trailer below contains some disturbing imagery).
From the trailer alone, you get a clear impression of the unique visual culture Jodorowsky establishes in his film; the imagery recalls many things: Yves Klein’s Anthropométries, a nightmarish cult involving Surrealists, sacrificial animals, war-torn society at its worst, and religious pastiche. Cindy Sherman’s grotesque humanoid forms and the aestheticized religion in Lady Gaga’s “Judas” music video. High-brow and popular art, both echo the filmmaker’s eccentric visual language. Messerschmidt’s installation streamlines Jodorowsky’s lexicon down to clean design elements. The (sacrificial) lambs are still in evidence, but they are combined into an elegant, illuminated chandelier; the repetitive and overwhelming patterns inspired by Eastern religion he has flattened into wallpaper. The grotesque, curious, and bizarre of Jodorowsky’s cinematic vision, translated this way, becomes playful.
Messerschmidt’s work creates the experience of an isolated, enveloping moment for passersby that is decidedly separate from the rest of the museum. It’s also interesting to view the work from the restaurant, Gather, upstairs: the swirling projected images flash across the asymmetrical ceiling and are readily visible from the bar. As night falls on Hennepin Avenue, people going by make the occasional observation; I hear someone wonder aloud about the impact of the lit sculpture at different times of day. The installation looks warm and bright as I give it one last look from the snowy sidewalk outside.
Chloe Nelson is the program assistant for mnartists.org.
Viewfinder posts are your opportunity to “show & tell” about the everyday arts happenings, interesting sights and sounds made or as seen by Minnesota artists, because art is where you find it. Submit your own informal, first-person responses to the art around you to editor(at)mnartists.org, and we may well publish your piece here on the blog. (Guidelines: 300 words or less, not about your own event/work, and please include an image, media, video, or audio file, and one sentence about yourself.)