Geoffrey KixMiller. Swimming.
by Daniel J Glendening
For their October exhibition, Appendix Project Space hosts the Baltimore, Maryland, based artist Geoffrey KixMiller. KixMiller gives us Swimming, an exhibition of sculpture and an associated artist’s book. The work is somewhat enigmatic, flitting between aesthetic models of modernism and the classically post-modern, personal profile web pages and the built urban or suburban environment.
KixMiller presents two floor-standing sculptures, each composed three primary components: a rectangular, stucco base, atop which sits a marble-patterned Formica cube, from which extends a white rod topped with a round or ovoid found object. In the first of these, the stucco base rests horizontally, reclined atop several grey brick supports, with one end against the wall, the white pole rises vertically, and is crowned with a golden-yellow water polo ball. The second of these sculptures stands more or less upright, its stucco base vertically on end, though skewed at a slight angle. The white rod emerging from the Formica cube extends the counter-angle to the base, and hold aloft a shining green watermelon draped with a scrap of camouflage-patterned cloth.
The wall-hung sculptures utilize a similar three-part composition: wheat-pasted pattern (in the first, a green and brown camo pattern, the second, a pink and violet sort of digital static and glop pattern) framing a tacked up, poster-sized, photo print depicting two people in an intimate exchange (the first, and embrace outdoors at night with streetlights in the background, in the second, two young women in a dinner or restaurant leaning close for a kiss or a whisper) with a small shelf and found object (the first, a white vase of white roses, the second, a pineapple) mounted atop the image to obscure the photo-subjects’ faces.
In some sense, each of these works is a variation of one singular work. Once the recipe is established, it seems to be more of an exercise of formal composition and juxtaposition than anything else, and the found objects, images and textures utilized seem to be almost interchangeable. That is to say, a camouflage cube and Formica image frame may not alter the work a great deal, if at all. These patterns seem not to be signifiers so much as optical patterning, a means of visual disruption more akin to World War I dazzle camouflage than the green and brown splotch patterns KixMiller employs here.
The question remains, though, of what all these interchangeable parts add up to. Each of these works is a sort of totem, a surrogate body composed of the materials and textures of the suburban built environment, stucco and Formica. The faces are hidden, disrupting audience identification with the photographed individuals, allowing them to be simply bodies without organs floating against a web-tile frame. There’s something slick to the work, a gloss that somehow positions it in the suburban strip mall, in the aisles of Wal-Mart or Home Depot.
It says, “We are you and you are we, even in our closest moments we are faceless, treading water.”