at Swan Coach House Gallery
by Jerry Cullum
Gregor Turk is Atlanta's home-grown answer to the new generation of conceptualists elsewhere in America, but his explorations of meaning are scarcely limited to Atlanta or even to the South--one of his best past efforts involved documenting the length of the U.S.-Canada boundary along the 49th parallel.
Though "Con/Text" (Turk's title implies both "context" and "with text") begins with works made in the Far West, most of the show deals with familiar Atlanta landmarks and markers. Turk has taken the technique of making rubbings from monuments and decontextualized it--at first by making rubbings of single words, such as the innocently misspelled "infinate" found in a plaque at the headwaters of the Mississippi River. In Atlanta, Turk has mixed text from markers with silkscreens of buildings made from enlargements of early-twentieth-century postcards. Such postcards were curious mixtures of fantasy and reality--because of slow shutter speeds on the photos, artists in Europe added foreground street traffic by hand, just as the black and white image was hand-tinted. Usually the result was a blend of Atlanta architecture with, say, Berlin automobiles.
The persistent tendency to mix fact and fancy reached new heights of absurdity when an Atlanta developer chose to invent a nineteenth-century history for the new community of Riverside, complete with fake historical photographs of community fathers. Turk extends this fictional heritage with an imaginary plaque reciting the imaginary events of the town's history (since the developer in question is Post Properties, Turk has constructed the wall plaque of overlapping Post-it* notes).
Most of the monoprints in this show deal more straightforwardly with the publicly presented history and architecture of the city too busy to look closely at the meaning of its own markers. But the array of intellectual puns, visual juxtapositions, and insightful choices in general makes this an unusually stimulating point from which to rethink both the history of Atlanta (including its various commercial re-readings) and the way in which art can place that history in a fresh context.
Con/Text: The Souvenir
Series" is at the Swan Coach House Gallery, 3130 Slaton Drive NW, through January
23, 1999. Gallery hours are 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays. For more
information, call 404-266-2636.
All images © 1998 Gregor Turk