Contemporary Reactions: a Sense of Leeriness

Visitor Services Intern Hannah Sandorf relays an in-museum interaction with guest Tyler Hall regarding Jennifer Seely’s “Supporting Elements”
Picture1Jennifer Seely’s Supporting Elements has inspired some profound insights from visitors to the museum. One patron in particular who was struck by the ideas presented by Seely’s exhibition is Tyler Hall. He is a student at Weber State University who came to visit UMOCA for the first time with his class for a field trip. Along with his interest in art, Tyler is also a veteran who was stationed in Hawaii. His assignment was to keep the US military postal services open for soldiers. During that time, he traveled all over the Pacific Command- visiting Thailand, Hong Kong, China, other Southeast Asian countries, and many locations in the United States.

From his trip to UMOCA, Tyler was particularly interested in the Seely exhibit which focuses on elements that are essential to construction, but are not often seen by those who are visiting public spaces. One of the striking features of her exhibit is the exposure of a crawl space filled with binders and boxes of museum. “I like that the gallery is an integral and important part in her work. Usually the gallery tends to fade out when an artist installs their work, but with this one, you literally get to see the behind-the-scenes of the gallery.” A feature that Tyler noticed is that one opening into the crawl space is partially covered with cork board. He liked this because of the “raw” feeling of natural decay rather than totally man-made destruction.

Seely’s work emphasizes her knowledge of forensic architecture. She has worked in many cities across the United States, diagnosing and developing structures to aid buildings against the forces of water and time. Her profession is all about providing security, safety, and structural longevity. In her exhibition, Seely explores the elements that make a gallery space safe and how, through exposure, these same components can become dangerous. Seely demonstrates structural elements as potential threats through an entire wall covered with protruding screws.J Seely-Install-027-300dpi

“The screw wall is decidedly off-putting,” Tyler stated “It gives me a sense of leeriness. Like I definitely don’t want to touch it. Sometimes, with other works, I really want to see what they feel like, but with this one I definitely wouldn’t touch it because it looks like it could hurt. I think that really brings out the whole safety aspect. It’s a really subtle way to evoke a sense of derelict buildings and unsafe places in a museum, which we generally think of as very safe places.”

Through Supporting Elements Seely poses questions about what it means to construct a safe architectural structure, the many unseen factors that go into creating public spaces, and our personal relationship to space and construction.