For a period of time I traveled quite frequently for work. Conference life is a series of endless late nights at hotel bars schmoozing, followed by even later night vending machine runs and poor sleep. Many a following morning, I would awake with a half eaten bag of Skittles on my nightstand and some incoherent scratchings on the hotel notepad. These pieces of drunken evidence were always coupled with a full glass of wine that I insisted on bringing up to my room from the bar. Luckily, these days are behind me.
The very notion of our morning after regrets is demonstrated beautifully in the new show "Dissatisfaction" by Marzia Faggin now on display at the d.m. allison gallery. Faggin has created a series of "Details of a Nightstand," which are as interesting and lovely as they are relatable.
Each piece in the series depicts the objects one might find after a night of soul searching and debauchery. The focal point of each piece is a book, many of them my favorites, that are often associated with the human examination on life and the pursuit of happiness.
Authors such as Bukowski, Ginsberg, Burroughs and Sartre often find their place in the very human pursuit, either adolescent or desperate, at finding some meaning in this world. Whether you are looking for that meaning in a lonely hotel room or the privacy of your own bedroom, looking to these prose for the "answers" come from a place of hopelessness. Couple that hopelessness with some prescription pills, bottles of beer, overflowing ashtrays and mounds of half eaten Kit Kat bars and you've got yourself an interesting examination into the foibles of the human existence.
Faggin has created the wonderfully detailed objects out of plaster cast (Hydrocal) and their realistic integrity is intact. One piece I liked in particular was "Details of a Nightstand: Ham on Rye," which centered on Charles Bukowski's coming of age book of the same title. The book is surrounded by half eaten Krackels, Mr. Goodbars and mini-Hersheys; the kind you might get on Halloween. The details are so perfect; the rice crisps of the Krackel bar pop out of the plaster chocolate. In the corner, a bottle of Crown Royal lays with, most likely, many regrets.
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Another piece, "Details of a Nightstand: And the Hippos Were Boiled in Their Tanks," another favorite of mine, has the book covered in coffee rings. To the side of the book lay half eaten Rollos and Kit Kat bars and an ashtray full of cigarette butts. The butts are stained with pink lipstick, a detail that completes the piece for me. This was my nightstand in another life.
"Details of a Nightstand: Junky," which features the famous Burroughs book of the same title was one of the most complex to understand. Surrounding the book is a scattering of alphabet cereal. The letters almost appear to make words: Feast, Fats and Safe are a few that are most discernable, but I think it is more their incomprehensibility that makes the most sense. Was the owner of this nightstand awake late at night in some sort of drug induced mentality eating Russell Stover's chocolates and spelling out his or her manifesto in alphabet cereal? I am sure that night it all seemed brilliant and groundbreaking, but after the euphoric high of a "genius idea" subsides, you are left with a pile of cereal. The "junkie's" lifestyle to a tee.
I love Faggin's collection of nightstand examples. I have not found pop art that has spoken to me like this exhibit in such a long time, and I left grateful for the opportunity to have seen it. It makes you feel in some senses like a voyeur, spying in on the intimate nightstand of a stranger, but then, so much of it makes you think about your own life. If tonight were your own last night on Earth, what would they find on your nightstand the next day? Would you be embarrassed by what you left behind? Would it be a clue into the previous evening's activities? Or would the interpretation of your nightstand be overly examined for its significance when you really just fell asleep eating a bag of Skittles? Go see this show and find out for yourself.
Marzia Faggin's "Dissatisfaction" is on display at the d.m. allison Art Gallery through March 2, 2013. Gallery hours Tuesday - Saturday 10 a.m. t0 5 p.m. For more information visit dmallisonart.com.