by Jen Graves
on Tue, Feb 12, 2013 at 3:00 PM
Courtesy of the artist and Suyama Space
How many architectural references can you find in this art installation at Suyama Space?
There is a city of misremembered buildings inside Suyama Space. The buildings are familiar, but wrong. They stand on the floor, dangle on platforms from the ceiling, and sprout from the wall, and they're made of translucent white plastic, the corrugated stuff used for mail delivery tubs and campaign signs. The artist, Deborah Aschheim, cut, sculpted, and lit the buildings from memory. If she went to sleep and dreamed a city made of all the cities she'd ever been in, this would be it. It's the set of an utterly personal movie, based on a set of collectively shared parts.
Parts of this set are from Seattle. Aschheim got her master of fine arts here at the University of Washington in 1990, and climbing up like white flowers from the gallery's dark wood floor are multiple miniatures of the Pacific Science Center's spindly arches. Some are just stalks without the webs on top, like single legs torn from a spider and trying to walk on their own. Mushroomlike towers are mash-ups of the curves of the Space Needle and swoops from other places. High-rises in the gallery take after buildings in Los Angeles, Berlin, and who knows where else. Two repeating sources are from Chicago, by the architect Bertrand Goldberg: the corncob concrete towers called Marina City (erected 1964), which were intended to start reversing white flight, and the 1975 brutalist concrete spaceship of the Prentice Women's Hospital, a cloverleaf-shaped tower with oval windows, designed to accommodate fathers in birthing rooms. The Prentice is currently under imminent threat of demolition, but it has a gleaming white West Coast double (larger, but similar) that's not going anywhere: St. Joseph's Hospital, which stands high atop Tacoma, and which Goldberg worked on concurrently with the Prentice. The concrete of the Prentice was left unfinished; the concrete of St. Joe's was finished with glossy white fiberglass. The two are like nodes lit up from within one brain.