by Christopher Koza
To divide the space of this column evenly between all 24 artists on display at the Soap Factory’s 8x8x8: LON/MSP/NYC would not provide even enough space to list each artist and one of their works. This delightfully sprawling exhibition infiltrates every presentable area of the gallery’s walls and floor, offering a stunning array of paintings, sculptures, videos, installations and other inventive mediums. For example, while slowly stepping back to take in a life-sized photograph of an apartment building by Rosemary Williams, entitled “Dwelling,” I was knocked in the back of the head by a massive wormish floor-bound creation, breathing heavily through an endless cycle of inflation and deflation like some kind of tubular heart valve distributing creative juices into the building. All the while the soundtrack of a projected bottle clanking and spinning on the floor from Katinka Galano’s “3 Channel Installation” and Emily Lutzker’s video/installation “I (heart) you Prince” swirled through the air.
concept of 8x8x8 is simple: It plucks 24 up-and-coming artists, eight
apiece from London, Minneapolis/St. Paul and New York, and packages them together
in a unique gallery space. The idea is for this artist collective to collaborate
and evolve their work as it travels to each city; adapting the exhibition in
the different exhibition spaces.
8x8x8 gives the artists a chance to capture the ever-shortening attention
spans of Americans. Seeing one tremendous work by an unknown artist is a better
gateway for further concentrated investigation than pouring over large bodies
of work from a single artist.
Kristen Peterson offers astonishing oil paintings on wood panels of masked figures
in radioactive suits cleaning up garbage and wildlife. These large pieces showcase
her talent for painting as she simultaneously considers the fine details of
each wood panel. Andy Hsu’s work creates a small closet-fortress from
masonite and screws. It’s a sort-of walk-in diorama with startling mannequins
posed amid sob stories about famous places in urban culture, such as CBGB’s
in New York and Spirit in London. “Portrait of Bill May” is a video
by Sarah Baker about the synchronized swimmer in competition and practice, depicting
him as the Michael Jordan of his sport. Baker uses a hip-hop soundtrack to accompany
the short, which is quite funny to watch.
Ultimately the dilapidated and blasted out rooms of the Soap Factory become
fertile ground for the genesis of new contrasts—the result of organizing
24 varied artists in one space. Curators Andrea Stanislav and Patty Healy McMeans
have thoughtfully created interesting contextual opportunities between and among
artists. Each work is sequenced in a way that not only highlights each artist
and complements the entire space, but also imbues interesting dialogue between
If you’ve never been to the Soap Factory before, now is a great time to
stop by the gallery that from the outside looks like an abandoned warehouse.
It is living proof that Minneapolis is cooler than it gets credit for. ||
8x8x8: LON/MSP/NYC runs through June 11. The Soap Factory
is located at 2nd St. NE between 5th & 6th Aves., Mpls., 612-623-9176 or
hours are Thu. & Fri. 3–8 p.m.; Sat.–Sun. noon–5 p.m.
Admission is free but donations are accepted.