Arts » Arts Etc.

ALMS FOR THE CONFLICTED

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Visage
Artist Michael Velliquette constructs silhouettes of self-identity

The Doppelgänger is a fiend of myth, an apparitional double that, according to folklore, attacks and consumes its human look-alike unless destroyed on first contact. San Antonio-based artist Michael Velliquette takes this dark phenomenon and flips it on its ass, churning out a campy, lighthearted body of work entitled "Get Into the, Who?," on view at the Cactus Bra.

Velliquette transmutes the idea of duality imbedded in Doppelgänger mythology, rewriting the tale as a modern parable of the search for self-identity through self-reflection. He sees his past and present self as fractured, a gestalt splintered by a form of temporal bilocation - a condition that is, thankfully, reversible. For the artist, this means rejoining his cultivated professional countenance and his kitch-infused, 1980s-driven adolescent self.

GET INTO THE, WHO?
By appointment
Through October 31
Free
Three Walls
106D Blue Star, Bldg. B
733-8266, 228-0201
Velliquette constructed much of the work at the Cactus Bra from double-sided, head-to-head silhouettes of his own profile. His maquettes and mobiles dominate the space, elegant in their final form, but conspicuously constructed with materials usually reserved for low-brow craft projects: felt, Xerox prints, binder clips, puff paint, stickers, tacks, colored string. Although thematically repetitive, each piece treats the silhouette differently. In a piece entitled Now, the thin outer edge of Velliquette's photocopied double profile runs end to end, dripping from the ceiling like a strange form of automatic writing. Other mobiles take on the more traditional - albeit topically odd - disguise of nursery room décor.

The mobiles cast gentle, drifting shadows atop neighboring artwork, cleverly intermingling each successive representation of the self, creating shadow play central to the installation. The floor-to-ceiling dimensions of Visage, constructed from colored string and small, white circular stickers, create an ominous human shadow form on the gallery's far wall, momentarily recalling the darker aspects of the original Doppelgänger myth.

 
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The Bilocator, maquette, detail, 65 x 14 x 14 inches, paper, Xerox print, thread, wood, glue, latex

Sound from a single CD loop - a hokey sample of the first few bars of Madonna's Into the Groove - emanates repetitively throughout the room. The artist playfully implants this pop fodder half-seriously, re-contextualizing it as a postmodern lament for the spiritual compliment lost in the metaphorical limbo of "the groove."

Any presentation that admits the use of puff paint is somewhat jarring in the white-cubed context of an austere gallery setting. But much of Velliquette's body of work involves such notions of camp, specifically in the context of queer identity. That theme lingers in his current work, but "Get Into the, Who?" reads as much as a metaphor as it does as the visual manifestation of a personal coping strategy. •


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