Li-Ming Hu is an interdisciplinary artist who employs a carnivalesque sensibility, to explore the relationships between cultural production and the construction of subjectivities.
A playful approach to Tatlin’s Monument
By Aileen Torres
When I heard the title of Flux Factory’s latest show, Response to Tatlin’s Monument to the Third International Conceived in the Mood of Ambivalence, or R.T.T.M.T.T.T.I.C.I.T.M.O.A. for short, I thought I was going off to see a ridiculous, pretentious show full of highfalutin communist propaganda. I’m happy to report that I was completely wrong.
Out there in Long Island City’s industrial outskirts, I came upon an exhibit that was cerebral and ideological in premise yet still wildly playful. Very clever. But also very fun.
First, a bit of history: Tatlin’s Tower was designed by Vladimir Tatlin as an architectural homage to the Third International (1919-1943). In the vein of Constructivism, it was to house bureaucrats as well as an information center that was to churn out communist propaganda for widespread broadcasting. A grand idea from a grand idealist, but the tower, which Tatlin envisioned as overshadowing the Eiffel Tower in height, was never built because of exorbitant building costs and unsolved engineering puzzles in Tatlin’s design.
Flux approached Tatlin’s Tower from an artistic, collaborative perspective. Putting their heads together, they asked: “What would Tatlin’s Tower be like if it was an ongoing construction in a 1,500-square-foot room with 12-foot ceilings and was designed to be a nice place to spend a day in?”
The result is a pretty cool hangout. A structure made of thin wood slats held together with only rope is suspended across the room; the idea being that this is what it would look like if Tatlin’s Tower fell over into the space outside, says Flux co-founder Morgan Meis. There’s also a helix hanging by one wall; one of the few concrete references to Tatlin’s original design.
All sorts of goodies are nestled in the space. There’s a love seat by the windows, where people can pick up sheets of lyrics to love songs from the table beside it and broadcast their own readings (or performances) via a dangling microphone. And yes, your voice will be heard- the microphones around the room are all connected to a streaming Internet radio station.
If you’re hungry, stop by the soup counter. Just wait your turn, and you’ll get real soup. And even ice cream, if you want it. If you start to feel a food coma coming on, head for the hammock, complete with pillows. Feel free to nap away. Or, if you’re feeling feisty, take a turn on the swing set in the corner. For the more dramatic, there’s a chance to show off your skills in a small theater alongside one wall designed for one-act plays.
And no need to worry that playing with all these props might be “corrupting” you. This art is meant to be experienced – not ingested as a throwback to Comintern “truth.”
Through Dec. 22. Flux Factory, 38-38 43rd St., Long Island City, Queens, 718-707-3362, Sat. 5:30-9:30.