Are materials desired, desirable, or do the materials themselves desire something else? Composed of intersecting installations, Dain Mergenthaler’s Material Desirez poses more questions than answers, as he grants agency to a bedroom turned art installation at the Heidelberg Project's POST-HAB gallery.
Easily accessible, determinedly facile, trashy, mock luxurious, mass produced, mock glamourous. These select attributes of camp sensibility Mergenthaler draws from Mark Booth’s 1983 book Camp. What is the value of camp, parties, and spectacle? “The parallels and intersections between labor, performance, and material are what drive my practice” Mergenthaler explains. “I use materiality and object-making to create virtual spaces within photograph, video, and installation. These spaces of liminality find themselves deadlocked between opposing spaces: work site, performance site, and sacral site.”
The materials that Mergenthaler animates are not neutral, they are of a certain disposition. For Material Desirez, we see plastic gems, pom-poms, peony roses, and confetti work in concert to convey a sense of saccharin and tragic decadence. In a single bedroom, Mergenthaler, a candidate in Cranbook Academey of Art’s MFA Fiber program, conjures parties and camp, witchcraft, life and death, and Miley Cyrus, questioning the parallels between these disparate forces.
Originally from Baltimore, Maryland, and a graduate of the Maryland Institute College of Art, Mergenthaler now lives in Hamtramck, Michigan. Dain has traveled around the country for residencies, workshops, and exhibitions including Haystack Mountain School of Crafts, Vermont Studio Center, and most recently ACRE Residency. It was all in pursuit of a good karaoke bar.
Opening alongside Material Desirez, Detroit photographer Julie MacDonald brings Over the River to exposure., the Number House photo gallery she has debuted and curated throughout this expanded POST-HAB season. The collection explores a sunset study of Detroit as she knows it, from places her grandmother frequented in childhood.
Material Desirez debuts with a first Friday open house mixer on September 4th at the Number House (3632 Heidelberg) from 5:30-8:30pm with live music and libations. Both installations will be on display at the POST-HAB gallery inside the Number House (3632 Heidelberg) in the month of September. The POST-HAB gallery is open on Thursdays / Fridays (12-5 p.m.) and Saturdays / Sundays (11-6 p.m.).