David Bowen’s Networked Bamboo and Pete Driessen’s White Fleet are among works in the MMAA’s 3D II biennial exhibition.
You can drive by the Science Museum of Minnesota every day and be forgiven for overlooking the Minnesota Museum of American Art, the bastion of homegrown visual art that, until not long ago, shared walls with the jail in the Ramsey County Government Center.
The MMAA’s Minnesota Biennial is the only so-named exhibition in the Twin Cities. Two- and three-dimensional work get alternating showcases — the latest 3D turn, the museum’s first since 2002, opened Saturday. 3D II is at turns bright, trite, engaging, unpolished, unpretentious, flat, fatuous, funny and wholly unique on the local gallery and museum scene. A sole juror — Jennifer Jankauskas, associate curator of exhibitions at the John Michael Kohler Arts Center, in Sheboygan, Wis. — winnowed down more than 150 artists to select the 27 in this show. 3D II closes February 3, 2008.
Jankauskas leans to the wry and socially relevant, emphasizing installation over static sculpture, and much of the work begs for direct interaction. At the well-attended opening-night party, visitors easily lost their heads the moment after walking in the door — Julia Kouneski’s pinhole cameras are like hexagon helmets. David Hamlow of Good Thunder, Minn., cast his life between 1994 and 1998 into a giant cardboard ball taped together from every box of cereal, crackers, soap, razors and other products he bought and used during those years. Friends and family weighed in with their own takes of Hamlow, made from the artist’s discarded materials.
My favorite pieces were David Bowen’s Networked Bamboo, an installation carrying deliciously creepy Borg overtones (the water-injected stalks make jerky, pained movements through light and electrical impulses) and an unnamed piece by Todd Severson of Minneapolis, a ceramic artist who created a web of figures in a frozen free-fall. I want to see more work from Pete Driessen, whose White Fleet, a stark comment on African colonialism, traces its influence to the work of Kara Walker.
3D II celebrates artists worth discovering.