All Soul, No Body
November 19 - January 7, 2017
Harmony Murphy Gallery is pleased to present a solo exhibition by Detroit-based artist Anthony Marcellini. Marcellini’s practice is based on creating artworks and performances that negotiate relationships between objects and people. He is interested in the stories of objects when they seem to fluctuate in their relationships with humans. He examines things that have fallen away from their history, purpose or reason-for-being and are now caught in a state of transformation.
This exhibition presents a series of artworks that explore the space between utility and memory, nostalgia and fracture. When a familiar object breaks or meets its end, suddenly we must examine what it represents to us, outside of its utility, as an entity in the world. With the destruction of a cherished thing, a new narrative—part recollection, part invention—is created to remember it. In these moments, when nostalgia replaces our physical relationships, the object develops a double state that fluctuates between sentimentality and its detached utilitarian past.
All Soul, No Body (2016) is a series of sculptural paintings based on the shadows of tools and furniture, photographed by his parents on their living room rug and wooden deck. The shadows act as ephemeral markers of time –the past as well as a shifting present. Each object was formerly used by his grandparents, now by his parents, and may soon become part of his own collection. Marcellini made the artworks by reconstructing photo documentation of these shadows, into physical objects. The originals, used and worn down by the bodies of two generations, now become their own ethereal silhouettes—all soul and no body.
A Breeze Block Wall with Phantom Cats (2016) comprises a series of photograms, a stenciled wall painting and concrete blocks, all imperfect simulations of a breeze block wall on the patio of his grandmother’s assisted living facility. In Marcellini’s memory this wall was the backdrop to the twilight years of his grandmother’s life; used as a staging area for plants and objects she and her husband made, gathered and cared for. Curiously these modernist cinderblocks have an uncanny resemblance to the silhouette of a cat’s head. In mythology, the cat is a messenger able to cross back and forth between the worlds of the living and the dead. Thus the wall hints at the instability of human existence, our attempts to sustain it, and stands as a gateway between these two worlds.
words I tried to say (2016), are a series of phrases subtlety stenciled in drywall joint compound on the walls of the gallery. Each phrase has been extracted from a series of short stories by the artist, written about objects, memories and family but never published. In their incompletion these pieces of text suggest the holes in memory and the hazards of personal reflection, while opening up these stories to other narratives.
When Bricks Become Verses, (2016) is a series of 26 photos that approach bricks as witnesses to a city’s transformation. Produced in Detroit, in collaboration with Michigan’s only surviving brick factory, these photos feature individual hand-lettered bricks captured at the moment they crash through a windowpane. Together they recount a lyrical narrative of urban cycles of construction, fracture, stability, and destruction.
In 2014, Marcellini wrote a play titled Obsolescere: The Thing is Falling that continues to take form in a series of incarnations. For this exhibition, he presents the “head shots” of several actors in the play—a housecat, seven T12 fluorescent lights, the Encyclopedia Britannica, and a Ford Taurus. The actor-objects narrate on their present, past or future state of obsolescence, when an object’s reason for being is questioned and ultimately changed.
Anthony Marcellini (b. 1978) holds an MFA in Social Practice from California College of the Arts, San Francisco and a BFA from California College of the Arts, San Francisco. His work has been exhibited internationally at museums, galleries and art institutions, including Simone DeSousa Gallery, Detroit (2016), MOCAD, Detroit (2015), The Experimental Media and Performing art Center, Troy (2014), Galerie Michael Janssen, Singapore (2014); Witte De With, Rotterdam (2013, 2014); Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco (2013); The Gothenburg Konsthall (2013); Wilkinson Gallery, London (2012-13), amongst others. He has also participated in biennials and festivals such as the 9th Annual Bienal do Mercosul, Porto Alegre (2013), Gagnef Festival, Sweden (2012) and Sequences Art Festival, Reykjavik (2011). His writing has been published in Paletten Art Journal, Detroit Research, Essay’d, Nowiswere, and Art Practical, and he is a featured contributor to the Detroit based art journal Infinite Mile.