Agitation, alarm and horror

The Nash presents another collection of intriguing and disturbing artwork

Katrina Wilber

Buttons and light bulbs and cardboard, oh my.

This month, the Nash Gallery plays host to a new exhibit that shows the dexterity and versatility of a baker’s dozen worth of artists.

“Interplay” (n. action, effect or influence on one another; v. to exert influence reciprocally) is part of an exhibition series that showcases the works of graduates from the University’s department of art.

“Interplay” is a juried exhibit. The artists selected from

the pool of applicants used everything from digital cameras and clay to television screens and video projectors in their work. The many different mediums create an exhibit that’s political and whimsical at the same time.

Ruthann Godollei’s “Newsbox Project” is a critical look at the media’s interpretation of world news. Three metal newspaper stands sit side by side. Two local papers and one national paper sit within, but a closer look reveals a darker side. The names of the papers and the stories on the front pages are oh-so-carefully altered to show the artist’s take on the war in Iraq. Posted on the front of one is a sign proclaiming, “We’re at war and we’re lying to you.” Godollei’s creations are identical to the original boxes; they were placed on random sidewalks for passersby to see.

There’s artwork for sale, too. “The Situation on the Ground” by Karl Raschke consists of eight large white shelves, and each shelf holds eight or nine little glass bowls. Each bowl holds a bunch of tiny photo buttons arranged by categories. Visitors are encouraged to dig through the bowls to find buttons to buy.

Some categories are humorous, such as birthday cakes, tape dispensers and shoes. Others aren’t so funny. There are buttons of radical clerics and coffins, even buttons with portraits of soldiers killed in Iraq. A bowl full of red, orange, yellow and other-colored buttons makes one think of pretty rainbows. When these bright buttons happen to be in the “Terror Alert” category, though, think again.

An untitled video by Suzanne Kosmalski is projected onto a white wall. The black-and-white video of a boxing match is distorted and played in slow motion while the sounds of a fight play in the background.

Frames of the fights often overlap each other. A referee checks the pulse of a KO-ed boxer in one frame, and in another frame, a fighter writhes in agony on the ground as his opponent dances around the ring.

It’s agonizing to see men put themselves through physical torture like this, especially slow-motion torture. The cheering crowd doesn’t help, either.

But it’s art like this that makes an impact. Whether politically-charged or created in homage, “Interplay” doesn’t cross any lines. It breaks them.