Unlike the fictional lead character, Lloyd Dobler, of the eighties teenage classic “Say Anything,” Soto’s rebellious carefree attitude in “Say Everything” is the result of mature and considered thinking, a deliberate expression of the ambiguous nature of desirable objects, and the figurative and administrative commonwealth.
Five verdant flags flutter in the gently constructed breeze issuing from brightly painted red fans that are variously standing or clipped to plastic lawn furniture upholstered with tiger-faced beach towels. A pink cooler, encrusted and filled with glittering pink sand, rests on a short floor-level plinth. Silver tape on the windows mimics the patterns of Puerto Rican fencing screens, a frequent subject for Soto, slicing the evening light into shadows that echo the patterns on the flags.
The forms of the furniture, fencing and fans fuse into the domestic setting of the second-floor apartment gallery, while the sense of fabricated idealism is emphasized through the bold use of color. Garish pink lighting falling on salmon painted walls creates the illusion that the light outside the gallery space is green, as well as emphasizing the green of the semi-transparent window-sized flags.
Soto created the patterns of diffracted, geometrical stars and stripes resembling the US, Puerto Rican and Chicago flags in Captiva, Florida at the Rauschenberg Residency. Inspired by the tropical plants on the residency grounds, she used them as the basis for a collage that she photographed and digitally reassembled. The plants also correspond to those that she regularly sees but is forbidden to touch at the Garfield Park Conservatory near her home. The relationship of these locations, all places she has lived—Puerto Rico, Chicago and the wider USA—is addressed through a representation of access to a way of life considered beautiful and desirable.
After years of cautiously avoiding direct confrontation with the subject of patriotism, Soto confronts its iconic image through the kind of superlative idyll that flags represent: a constructed non-place, leaving room for the influences of fantasy, access and imagination. The imitation summer set within a second floor apartment overlooking Polonia Triangle will fittingly be up through early December. (Alyssa Moxley)
Through December 12 at Lloyd Dobler Gallery, 1545 West Division. Saturday hours by appointment through contacting firstname.lastname@example.org.