Ballroom Marfa Announces AutoBody

Featuring North of South West of East, a film written and directed by Meredith Danluck and works by Liz Cohen, Matthew Day Jackson, and Jonathan Schipper. Open 30 September 2011–29 January 2012.

Ballroom Marfa

AutoBody, curated by Neville Wakefield, explores the mythology of the American automobile through the carcasses of an industry turned art. From Robert Frank to Richard Prince, the automobile has been the driving force of American freedom: its promise of escape provided in an image of mobility. However, as JG Ballard pronounced over 40 years ago, “the car as we know it is on the way out… for as a basically old fashioned machine, it enshrines a basically old-fashion idea: freedom.” The American dream that it once represented, and freedom—the idea it once enshrined—may, like the car itself, be turning obsolete.

With a nod to those windshields that cinematized landscape, AutoBody features the newly commissioned four-channel video work, North of South West of East, by emerging artist Meredith Danluck and produced by Matthew Shattuck. Shot on location in Detroit, Michigan and Marfa, Texas, North of South West of East uses the car as an entry point, a subtle connective tissue, between the equally loaded but seemingly disparate archetypes of the Cowboy, the Rebel, the Immigrant, and the Actress. Eschewing the simplification of abstraction, the film employs the mainstays of narrative with a strong focus on temporality. Each of the four character’s retention of the past, attention to present actions and future anticipation play out on separate screens simultaneously manifesting both mobility and stasis—the chronic existential crisis that is American identity.

Marfa local punk band Solid Waste and New York musician John Carpenter are featured on the film’s soundtrack.

Works by Liz Cohen, Matthew Day Jackson, and Jonathan Schipper accompany Danluck’s film installation. Ranging from the slow motion erotics of collision to high speed ethanol ambitions, masculine relics of bodies past to feminized hybrids of bikinied futures, AutoBody figures the car as an extension of the body, laying bare the contemporary relationship between sculpture and performance.

Ballroom Marfa was at one time a body shop. Drawing on this history, AutoBody will be presented as a car showroom—a place where fantasy, speculation, and promises of freedom, speed, and escape are embodied in objects of destruction and desire.

To inaugurate AutoBody, Ballroom Marfa will host a weekend of festivities, including an opening reception on Friday, 30 September, from 6–8 pm. During the reception at 7pm, composer and experimental metal guitarist, Mick Barr will perform in Ballroom Marfa’s courtyard. Barr is noted for the discordant qualities of his compositions: non-repeating riffs and repetition, pre-meditated structure and randomness, harmony and counterpoint. Above all, he is celebrated for the speed and rigor of his shredding.

After the opening reception is a community dinner at the Capri at 8:30pm followed by a performance by the all-female mariachi band Mariachi Las Alteñas. Hailing from San Antonio and dedicated to promoting the majesty of mariachi music, this 10-part band has made its mark in a predominantly male industry.

AutoBody has been made possible through the support of the Brown Foundation Inc., Houston, National Endowment for the Arts, Texas Commission on the Arts, Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit, New York Foundation for the Arts and Ex Vivo Productions. With generous contributions by Jorge Linares and Ballroom Marfa Members. Special thanks to Renwick Gallery, Jennie Lyn Hamilton, Jane & Bob Crockett, Linda & Bobby McKnight, Fort Davis Stables, Marfa Table, Hector Sanchez, John Carpenter and W.N. Parrot. In-kind support provided by Jacqueline R. Northcut and David Egeland & Andrew Friedman.

Ballroom Marfa is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization, founded in the spring of 2003 by Virginia Lebermann and Fairfax Dorn as a center for public exploration of contemporary art and culture. Housed in a converted dancehall that dates to 1927, the Ballroom includes two galleries totaling 4,500 square feet and a 6,000 square-feet courtyard.

Ballroom Marfa
108 E. San Antonio St.
Marfa, TX 79843

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