The opening reception for Tim Carroll's site-specific installation and performance at the Soap Factory was the start of a 98-hour journey for the artist, who has embarked on the curious task of drawing vertical chalk lines over and over until the end of the exhibit.
Carroll previously presented his installation and performance for last summer's Artery 2010 at the Soap Factory. For that festival, Carroll occupied a much smaller space in a shorter time period. For the current exhibition, his installation takes up the entire 12,000 square foot gallery, and he will continue his performance over the course of nearly a month.
The gallery currently is set up like a labyrinth, with Victorian-looking candles placed in various nooks and crannies throughout the exhibit. According to Lillian Egner, program and volunteer manager at the Soap Factory, the walls of the maze are lined with about 6,480 square feet of tar paper. Carroll averages about 6 seconds per line drawn, she says, and is drawing every hour the gallery is open, for a total of about 98 hours.
At the opening reception, Carroll was dressed in a tuxedo, drawing each line with panache. Starting at the top of the paper, he drew each one in a rhythmic motion, continuing the action again and again in half-inch intervals. Next to him at all times was a basket full of thick chalk.
Friday's opening featured accompaniment by several soundscape artists, including Teen Anal Terrorist, the Blind Turk, Jason Wade, and Jaime Carrera. Some of the soundscape was a kind of gothic John Cage mash-up.
Adding to the gothic vibe was the fact that there was no heat in the building. A precautionary measure suggested by the fire department (tar paper is highly flammable), the temperature added to the mood of the event (not to mention the intrigue of fire department employees standing guard throughout the gallery, as well as reports that there were undercover cops making sure no one was smoking).
Carroll is very good at drawing his lines accurately. However, being human causes some room for minute alterations, so each line is unique, and the sum total of all of the lines together create a texture that is rich and has its own movement.
What is interesting is how the precision of the lines, the dapperness of Caroll's costume, and the rigidity of the perpendicularly constructed walls contrast with the cave-like feel of the Soap Factory, the industrial quality of the tar paper, and the ephemeral nature of chalk lines themselves. It speaks to striving for order among chaos, no matter the conditions.