RICH RICH RICH: is this art?
"Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is manifested in a variety of forms, but is most commonly characterized by a subject's obsessive thoughts and related compulsions which attempt to neutralize the obsessions." (Wikipedia)
At first glance RICHRICHRICH (RRR) is a disregarded room of left over construction materials but after careful consideration and observation the room comes alive and reveals that it is a controlled art installation site where every fragment, additive and subtractive is well thought out and meticulously placed. Blue coolers are stacked on the ground, leftover plaster drywall is scattered in deliberate piles, a print is hidden in the ceiling tiles, necklaces sit on the ground like jewels and many other treasures appear before your eyes like in Highlights Magazine's hidden pictures from your childhood. Your mind starts to spin out of control as you see each mark on the wall and small fragment on the floor. To escape the planned mess is impossible. While entering the bathroom, a smashed bowling ball with drywall pieces sits in one corner while a trashcan with empty bottles and beer cans sits in the other corner. The bowling ball is intentional but is the trashcan? Did they put the trashcan there for a reason? What is a trashcan? Is it art? This is an example of the trail of thoughts that go through the viewer's head while in this gallery space.
The three collaborators, Mike Smith, Nolan Simon and Ed Brown - all very different in their craft - come together for this project to pose an interesting question to viewers that is no more original than Duchamp's ready-mades: what is art and should it be aesthetically pleasing? Duchamp states, "When I discovered the ready-mades I sought to discourage aesthetics-[the neo-dadaists] have taken my ready-mades and found aesthetic beauty in them, I threw the bottle-rack and the urinal into their faces as a challenge and now they admire them for their aesthetic beauty." The three very modest yet deserving artists are not claiming to rock the art world with a new never before seen idea but they are throwing some very different ideas in the faces of us Detroiters.
If you are looking for a gallery where oil paintings are hung straight on the wall and sculptures sit on pedestals on the floor then RRR is not your gallery. RRR is a conceptual space that breeds ideas, collaboration and, most importantly, takes risks. Not only is the exhibition a fun house of "what is art" but the location also plays into the show. Would you think to find a gallery next to a pizza joint and a tanning salon in a strip mall in Shelby Township? The aesthetics may be misleading but I can assure you the content is there in full force!
RRR will have ongoing shows until August, a new one every three weeks. So, be sure to check it out before RRR - like other Detroit treasures - disappears with no signs except memories and pictures.