January 14—February 20, 2010
Trained as an architect, Wes Heiss’s work explores the relationship between form and function, the animated and the inanimate, and the controlled and the absurd. In “Under Contract,” Heiss reacts to the gallery’s raw and industrial architecture, and intervenes in the gallery to create a new site-specific installation that reveals a construction job gone horribly wrong. Broken ceiling tiles, cords, tools, and partially functioning construction lights litter the floor. Above, missing ceiling tiles leave ominous gaping holes, lights flash intermittently, and an S-shaped section of ductwork descends from the ceiling like a slithering snake. Heiss’s staged intervention has an eerie atmosphere, which is heightened by the incessant bellowing of recycled air being pushed, and then trapped, in the duct-work overhead. The pressure of the air forces the metal “skin” of the duct to expand and contract, creating unlikely sounds from an otherwise silent structure. Futile and dysfunctional, Heiss’s work speaks to the failing romantic notions about the power of man-made objects. Using both everyday and highly fabricated objects such as tools, suspended ceilings, electrical cords, and ventilation ducts, Heiss reacts to the systems, structures, and social politics of a place to fuel his transformative installations.