The quick and the melancholy

The Walker’s new exhibition is an optimist’s nightmare.

Adrian Piper’s “What Will Become of Me,” featured in the show, is a collection of the artist’s hair, fingernails and skin that has been stored in honey jars since 1985. PHOTO COURTESY THE WALKER ART CENTER

Ashley Goetz

Adrian Piper’s “What Will Become of Me,” featured in the show, is a collection of the artist’s hair, fingernails and skin that has been stored in honey jars since 1985. PHOTO COURTESY THE WALKER ART CENTER

The Quick and the Dead WHERE: The Walker Art Center, 1750 Hennepin Ave. WHEN: Apr 24 âÄì Sept 27 TICKETS: $6 Students Ever listened to the inner workings of a maple tree in Loring Park ? Or watched a tire spin endlessly against the museum wall as it grinds itself into oblivion? Well, the new exhibit at the Walker Art Center, âÄúThe Quick and the Dead,âÄù offers the chance to immerse oneself in a gathering of compositions that reflect on the timelessness of existence. Sounds uncannily existential, huh? The three-room exhibit is more like a visit to an eerie, mad scientistâÄôs laboratory than a peaceful art gallery. The exhibitâÄôs lights have been dimmed to cause the clean, white walls to suddenly become dank and dingy. Each work aims to scrutinize life as though it were an inanimate object, a concrete noun, both in opposition to and in parallel with death. âÄúThe Quick and the DeadâÄù features work by 53 international artists , each displaying their own manifestation of melancholy. âÄúStill Alive,âÄù a silver-plated replica of artist Kris MartinâÄôs skull , responds to Michel FoucaultâÄôs meanderings on the human skull in âÄúMadness and Civilization: A History of Insanity in the Age of Reason .âÄù It demands that humanity view itself as a product-less corporation, assembling nothing in its wheel-spinning. Adrian PiperâÄôs âÄúWhat Will Become of Me,âÄù a collection of the artistâÄôs hair, fingernails and skin that has been stored in honey jars since 1985 , displays the endless manufacturing of human detritus that in both life and death is constantly in progress. The show includes all forms of art, from a taxidermied dog that appears to alight somewhere on the gradient between slumber and expiration to an installed hallway just over two feet wide that videotapes the viewer as he approaches the end of the corridor and replays it onto a television screen in front of him. The inability to see the gazing face is painfully reminiscent of continuous anonymity. The exhibit is darkly lit, with different music playing over the gallery intercom. The first gallery features a deep, moaning cello instrumental by Arthur Russell while the next gallery booms âÄúThunderâÄù by Hannah Rickards , which is an instrumental replica of eight seconds of thunder drawn into a seven minute piece. âÄúThe Quick and the DeadâÄù engages the viewer in a melding of modern and postmodern art to see humanity as a beacon of death. Each of the dark pieces reminds the viewer of the death they are speeding toward each day. If visitors find this exhibit thoroughly depressing, they will be glad to know Sebastian JoeâÄôs ice cream shop is just up the road.