Mirror, Mirror

Deborah Boardman

11 JULY 2009 – 7 august 2009

While visiting East Berlin for the first time
in 1989, just before the wall came down, I noticed many of the buildingsstill carried the scars of war—re-bricked sections filling the contours
of cannon blasts, bullet holes peppering the façades. When I lived
there briefly in 2001, just before the World Trade Center attacks, it
was in the newly fashionable, former eastern section. Its buildings
were gaily painted. Some design sensitive renovator had gold-leafed
the gunfire gouges on one façade, making cherished relics from the
evidence of strife.In Red Target Town (2004) Chic
ago based
artist Deborah Boardman has pictured a quaint European village upon
what appears an obscure national flag. The large drawing in watercolor
and gouache is a patchwork of variously sized pieces of wheat-hued paper.
It is layered much like the shingled roofs depicted in her rendition
of the village. In the center of this 12- striped standard are two concentric
circles as if the village was under aim of some outside enemy. This
bull’s eye certainly suggests a conquest and conversion of the sort
described above or possibly an economic assault by global capitalism—Wal-Mart
already has a firm hold in Europe, South America, and Asia, implying
Target stores could not be far behind—but a more subtle transformation
is alluded here. Ms. Boardman’s work is distinctly humanist and proceeding
from that firm ethos we understand that our invention of society is
a communal enterprise but more specifically, and more importantly, it
is an individual effort. These are our procumbent devotions to the good
of the clan, myself I withdraw so that we may go forward.
Viewed in this light the village becomes both a paradise and a prison.
It is our crosshairs taking aim at the hidebound and stifling.
Emblem Window
(2006) is an illustration of the notion that any point
of view is ultimately an embellished one and that our personal histories
are the ingredients used to manufacture the lens through which we examine
and comprehend the world. This too is a work on paper—the artist is
enamored with paper, both biddable and fragile—shaped like a fireplace
bellows (again the hearth of home is suggested) but the shape is also
a peephole through which we view the houses next door. Nearly six feet
tall Emblem Window has a totemic bearing, like a parade standard
or battle shield brought out for viewing during sacred processions.
The houses next door are, however, merely those of the neighbors near
her Chicago studio, and that is precisely the point. The house next
door can be a refuge or an enemy fort. Part naturalist, part scribe
Ms. Boardman is a recorder of the way we look at our selves and she
invites the same scrutiny. From her studio she records the outside and
the inside, our seemingly benign exteriors and our complex, fearful
interiors. When the East German government collapsed and
the records became available for viewing by the citizenry it was found
that the Stasi, the East German secret police, had a network of informers
so vast that every apartment building was infiltrated, often by more
than one tenant/spy. Ms. Boardman is also a note-taker, a keeper of
records, and her pictures, often pictures of pictures, are keeping tabs
on what we like to call our identity. But what we often regard as a
source of pride is exactly what others despise and distrust in us.

exhibitION space at tropo Mfg is on view

12-6, On Second Saturdays 12-10