Wednesday 20 November, at 18.00, aA29 Project Room of Milan presents Kyle Thompsons’ Sinking Ship solo show and the homonymous catalogue, edited by the artist with the support of the gallery.
Following on 22nd and 24th of November, at 18.00, the openings of the same exhibition respectively in the venues of Reggio Emilia and Caserta.
“Abandoned homes often have a strong sense of disorder…”
The solo show of the American artist Kyle Thompson (Chicago, 1992) is made up of photographs and self-portrait shooted in different American and Canadian ghost towns, totally abandoned or with a irrilevant population that doesn’t reach five inhabitants each. The states taken into consideration and visited by the artist are Oregon, Washington, North and South Dakota, Wyoming and Saskatchewan. Elsworth is, instead, the source of inspiration and the starting point of the whole series.
The artist shoots the desert homes with a double perspective, from the inside and the outside, together with the landscape empty and desolate that sorrounds them, marked out, for the most part, the green and endless sweeps. In the self-portraits, instead, is the artist body adapted and fit to the domestic spaces. It occupies them and wraps itself into transparent plastic sheets, resembling the indeterminate outline of a ghost. Sometimes the body visually represents the linear extension of the objects discovered into the rooms. It’s the example of an old television behind where Thompson fits his face, which is cast on the screen in black and white and misshapen.
The artist carefully and meticulously shoots the objects who observes inside the rooms: from his point of view they are as archeological findings worn out and corrupted by the time and rediscovered just after dozens years.
Opened and torn up calendars, bleached letters, VHS, soles of shoes and fake flowers make up just a little part of the discovery list.
In Toy Gun the empty profile of what is suggested by the title It reveals, even more clearly with the absence, the effective and disturbing presence of the weapon, which is straight imprinted in the observer’s mind.
In Birds Nest, instead, Thompson immortalizes two swallows which beat the wings and soar into a room where they had built a nest. This is the sign that the apparently desolation of those abandoned and forgotten homes is never total and definitive.
And then in Coyote is depicted the homonymous animal dead and hang loosely on a sign, with an evident “no hunting” inscription, used by farmers as a warming for other predators: harsh and brutal shot, but with a clear ironic intent.
Besides the series of photographs they will be displayed in the show also some handwritten letters, answers directed to Thompson and written by a few or lonely inhabitants of these ghost towns, who describes their personal way of live there.
Finally the exhibition will come to an end with a video editing, in loop, of some shootings which the artist has obtained putting some cameras into the abandoned homes to document the secret motions of animals and people got in. The video reveals that those passing and transient beings, animals which build up their shelters or guys who stain the walls with graffiti, represent a strong and powerful agent of transformation of homes, which keep changing over the years, despite the desolation and the neglect.
Therefore Sinking Ship is the metaphor of the physical collapse of these ghost towns, what becomes also a moral and psychological breakdown of the people used to live there and then forced to leave. Through this series of photographs Thompson discloses of the United States of America, and especially of those Midwest state as North and South Dakota a side less famous but deeply authentic and well-established compared to that is continuously shown off on the social media, television or newspapers. It’s no more the America free and liberal, where every unspoken desire can be fulfilled. And neither that one of iper-urbanized metropolis, cinematographic colossal, international brand as Amazon and Apple and the great lobbies.
It’s not the America of possibilities, on the contrary It’s that one characterize by kilometers of fields and desert highways that pass through the nothing, by the endless grasslands and by the typical farms with plots of lands and livestock.
In this America the Thompson’s socio-anthropological survey becomes more interesting and acquire a significance. The neglect comes up to the suface. These ghost towns are ruined and crumpled on themselves, forgotten by god as well as the modern tools such as Google Maps, which sometimes struggles to geo-locate them. Socio-economic reasons or natural disaster as tornadoes, floods and fires have determined their progressive depopulation.
Through his photographs and self-portraits the artist stages those topoi identified and known with the term of “wasteland”, which are deprived of any particular socio-economic value and where the fruitful processes have been run out.
Therefore, the usefulness of these places is nonexistent: as though they were not real or were sudden interruptions on the geographic map.
The United States of America are also these ones and the Thompson’s value is to make us aware of it.