Artist Tom Friedman’s Eternal Return Brings Infinite Matter (and a St. Louis Artist) Back Home to projects+gallery
Our universe is in a state of infinite scatter and regress: matter decomposing and reconstituting itself in new forms, energy released only to coalesce again a solar system away. That is, unless humans come along and gum up the cosmic works with Styrofoam take-out containers and water bottles that take hundreds of years to wilt down to their constituent atoms. In its own troublesome way, human memory can feel like that too—and in projects+gallery’s latest exhibition, both interrupted cycles rotate along the same uncertain axis.
On Sept. 27, internationally renowned multimedia artist Tom Friedman opens “Eternal Return” at projects+gallery in the Central West End. The show is something of a return for him as well: Friedman was born in St. Louis in 1965, and, in the years since, he has built a storied career that has brought his work to the permanent collections of countless legendary museums around the world.
His latest work draws on many of the themes and techniques that made Friedman a go-to for solo exhibitions at institutions like the MOMA: a painstakingly handmade sculpture of a man made out of window insulation foam that has been so perfected it looks eerily mass-produced; a photograph of bright grocery-aisle labels papering an ideal cube, until you look close and realize that every single familiar logo has been altered in some subtle, sometimes disturbing way. “In ‘Eternal Return,’ Friedman subverts our perception of the mundane and the meaningful … manipulating commonplace objects to disrupt the superficial solace of what feels like home,” a press release from Barrett Barrera Projects says. “The subtle changes to the wrapping turn the creature comfort of these consumables into grotesqueries, becoming a wry reminder of the ease with which we package and perceive our lives.”
Bridget Melloy, projects+gallery’s senior director, is particularly intrigued with a piece called “smallfigurewithbinoculars.” “It’s a tiny figure of a man dressed in stripes evoking a Where’s Waldo-like look with binoculars only measuring about a half-inch in height,” Melloy describes. “I really enjoy how Friedman plays with scale and rewards the viewer who looks closely and examines the details in his work.”
If you’ve kept a keen eye around St. Louis, you might have seen Tom Friedman’s work already. His large-scale installation “Looking Up” is currently star-gazing outside the Forest Park planetarium; “Swamp Creature Friends” lurks at Washington University. His new sculpture “John Burroughs” was recently installed on the campus of the eponymous school in West County. Friedman gives an artist talk about that new work on Oct. 5 at 12:30 p.m.
You’re invited to take a moment to examine the ever-expanding range of Friedman’s art from Sept. 27 to Nov. 23 at projects + gallery. An opening reception for “Eternal Return” is Sept. 27 from 5-8 p.m., and an artist talk is Oct. 4 at 2 p.m.
Images courtesy of projects+gallery.