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“Shhhh… let’s not talk about infrastructure. Let’s save the building,” cries Amos, a puppet, in the second episode of Cécile B. Evans’ multi-faceted project, Amos World. A “television show set in a socially-progressive housing estate,” Amos World informs Evans’ new installation at Château Shatto, Something Tactical is Coming.
The general plotline of Amos’ World follows the revelation of the social flaws inherent to the design of the built utopia, all of this conveyed through a combination of live-action performances by the building’s tenants, floating .jpegs, and sentient, 3D flowers. The villainous Amos, a fictitious character based on the entrepreneurial “male genius,” becomes a stand-in for the lingering promises and cold, male utility of Brutalism.
Like a residence where one enters through the garage instead of the front door, the face of the installation is also the tail of the work. One encounters the exposed “backside” of a length of short wall studs upon entering the space; the dazzling video is largely a footnote to the exhibition. As such, scene summations and plot points are handwritten across the set’s plywood surface, outlined in dangling HDMI cords and media players. Filmed b-roll of Amos’ World play out on mounted pocket screens—puppeteers guide Amos against a blue screen, performers gesture offscreen.
The reverse of this theater flat forms a scale model, the set of Amos’ World: an office in diorama tableau, neither dollhouse nor maquette, with tiny tools atop a desk and a bookshelf of intricate volumes re-produced in miniature. Indeed, two prints, character studies framed within server drive-cases, are also hung at a stunted height. Absorbing these details requires crouching, an imposition that enhances the sense of mediated entrapment, in this unité d’habitation.
This office is abruptly partitioned by a chroma-key blue stage, empty except for a fountain endlessly issuing smoke from the corner. Yves Klein blue is the same as chroma key blue is the same as green screen—a consuming shade allowing for metaphor, a composite, or in this case, the potential for the absent, edited illusion of Amos’ independent movement. Chroma-key is not usually meant to be visible, yet Evans replaces function with the implication of subtraction. The void becomes centralized, context becomes marginalia—scrubbed and distilled to a single moment.
The complete episodes of Amos World will play at Frieze Los Angeles.
Cécile B. Evans: Something Tactical is Coming at Château Shatto runs from January 5–February 24, 2019 at Château Shatto (1206 S. Maple Ave, Suite 1030. Los Angeles, CA 90015).