Exhibit: Why we do this

By Sam Landsberg

We generally don’t expect to encounter enormous games of Battleship when entering an art gallery, but Andy DuCett’s installation work at the Soap Factory gallery contradicts many of the assumptions we have about what should happen in galleries. The show, which runs through November 11th and is titled “Why We Do This,” sees the entire Soap Factory space (with the exception of the currently haunted basement) given over to DuCett, a fairly new artist who has only been doing installations since 2005. “Why We Do This” is fun. I don’t mean fun in a derogatory sense or want to imply that it is not serious work. But, the viewer (or really, the participant) is encouraged to interact with the work and each other. The participant feels giddy, playing with each work and anticipating the next. As I moved further into the gallery, my inhibitions slipped away. I was, at first, wary to touch or participate in the art, but I soon could not resist. The installations play with nostalgia and memory, creating intimate landscapes that seem reminiscent but unreal. We are suddenly in an office break room, complete with a bulletin board full of banal humorless comic strips and announcements. Then, suddenly we are in a living room from the 1950s with empty picture frames and a blank television. Other works encourage even more interaction from the participant. There is a functioning thrift shop (with limited hours) and used record store (25¢ per record). The massive Battleship board is another example; it is so large, that two megaphones are provided for the players. My favorite room was a small one near the back of the space. The hardwood floors are painted with instructions for a simple dance and against the back wall is a portable record player. As I turned on a scratchy live version of a Frank Sinatra song, I was compelled to follow the directions on the floor and dance. DuCett successfully creates immersive spaces that don’t quite seem as they should but encourage us to question their original form: the office, the bar, the living room. It’s also a show worth seeing, if only for the fun of it all. refresh –>