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Review: Auntie Em’s Mobile Home/Slow

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On February 25, Slow introduced “Auntie Em’s Mobile Home,” an exhibition of works by ACRE residents Maggie Haas and TJ Proechel. Proechel provides the fragmented narrative of a foreclosure contractor attempting to locate a former business partner turned fraud. Placid photographs and email correspondence detail the frustrating pursuit of a fleeting conman. An unexpected consistency develops between the inevitable mobility of the running antagonist in Proechel’s tale and the effects of forced mobility experienced by homeowners facing foreclosure. More broadly, these images explore experiences of displacement and loss associated with the current housing crisis. Homes are not only inhabited but decorated and embellished, often to distract from the fragility of their financial situation. Similarly, the play between ornamentation and support is central to Haas’ attenuated, maquette-scale sculptural works. While many of Haas’ subtle references are architectural in their form (angled rooftop) or material (drywall), these associations appear at times opportune or serendipitous. The ambiguity of a number of her pieces prompts hesitation in reducing each work to its presumed utilitarian reference. Meanwhile, the narrative structure of Proechel’s project—albeit a fractured one—offers comfortable points of entry that further distance Haas’ pieces. A viewer may scramble to locate concerns in Haas’ work that are already immediately visible in Proechel’s. Similarly, there are significant dimensions of each project seemingly unaddressed by the exhibition at-large—for example Proechel’s interest in loss and retribution, or the democratic potential of Haas’ strict use of accessible, everyday material. The cadence of Proechel’s project commands the tempo of the exhibition, and Haas’ works struggle to keep up or interject. The degree to which these disparate projects are interwoven remains at times neatly aligned, at others subtly conflicted. This quiet dissonance is no detriment to the exhibition. In most ways the work of each artist simply appears removed from that of the other, despite a number of compelling intersections. “Auntie Em’s Mobile Home” speaks to the unique curatorial undertaking of the two-person exhibition. (Pat Elifritz)

At Slow, 2153 West 21st, through March 17.

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