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Façade Projection: Mark Fox

The eighth installment in the façade projection series is the premiere of an animation by New York–based artist Mark Fox, commissioned by the Museum. It is formally and conceptually related to Fox’s large sculptural drawings that he creates by taping together thousands of intricate ink and watercolor drawings. Fox suspends these works from the ceiling, thus straddling the boundary between drawing and sculpture, and his drawn and cutout images refer to such disparate sources as Bosch, Bruegel, mythology, anatomy, world events, comic books, doodles, personal lists, and random thoughts. They explore the possibilities of chance and the strange narratives that emerge from the juxtaposition of fragments. Combining personal iconography with references to high and low culture, Fox equally mines his daily life, the news media, religion, cinema, art, and advertising for imagery. “Some of these assemblages,” the artist has said, “operate as self-portraits, in which the viewer is first confronted with a unified monochromatic [perhaps public] side, while the opposite colorful surface is more akin to the workings of the subconscious mind.”

Combining this practice of recent years with elements from his decade-long involvement with puppet theater, Fox animates similar cutouts for his short films, in the process emphasizing the artist’s hand and the act of drawing. Largely using “old-fashioned,” hand-drawn animation techniques that also include collage and silhouettes, Fox shot each frame (at 18 frames per second) on Super 8 film, while manipulating some of the footage as he transferred it to a digital format. Cricket’s Song not only relates formally to Fox’s larger body of work but also conceptually, functioning as an illustration of the driving forces behind it. As dark clouds form in the sky over a house, drawn in a 1920s expressionist style, chairs, bicycles, martini glasses, tubs, and other household items swirl eerily through the air. Picked up by the force of a tornado, the spinning tables, bras, candles, crucifixes, and underwear are reminiscent of the small cutout shapes in Fox’s sculptural drawings that seem to respond to a similarly powerful force.

In a recent artist statement, Fox mentioned the traumatic effects of experiencing a tornado during his childhood that left him with a powerful feeling of impermanence and fear of loss. This anxiety must have prompted him a few years ago to catalogue all of his belongings as drawings and to create an installation with them. He has noted, “Such dramatic events cause physical destruction, but they can also destroy internal belief structures, which must be reconstructed/reconsidered. Tornadoes have become emblematic of this process for me.” While tornadoes wield possibly deadly forces, Fox has been able to capture their potential for renewal and innovation in both his animation and sculptural work.

This exhibition was funded in part by public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts, a state agency. Additional funding provided by a grant from the Cornell Council for the Arts.

Andrea Inselmann
Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art