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November 17, 1999 - Image 9

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1999-11-17

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The MihiganDaily - Wednesday, November 17, 1999 - 9

exhibit poses
V1d questions
ByJean Lee
Daily Arts Writer
The thin line between art and documentation only
;eems to be getting thinner. The latest School of Art and
Design exhibit proves this point tiresomely with its pseu-
apoastmodern attempt to show the "demise of the
American dream" through the use of more than 1,000 4-
by 6-inch color photographs of sightings of the Chevrolet
ElCamino throughout the West Coast from 1996 to 1999.
The .El Camino, ("the road" in Spanish), is the half-
n, half-truck model that became popular for its
rty versatility in the early 1960s.
An on-going project by Los Angeles artist and former
ournalist Mike Rogers, "El Caminoville" incorporates
hotographs and sculpture of the nostalgic Chevrolet
vith a video presentation of El Camino-related inter-
iews and also features a 20-foot scroll of Rogers' comic
trip illustration of the evolution of.the El Camino.
jn the statement posted at the entrance of the gallery,
Rogers said, "My work is about the individual's place in
ociety and the tendency towards antisocial behavior. It is
't responsibility, relationships, aggression and retreat."
ut contrary to this grandiose statement, one could not
telp but feel as if the waxed, wooden floors of the Jean Paul
lusser Gallery were a bit devoid of purpose. "El
iaminoville" does pose some important questions, but most
ifthem concern the mystery of why one would have chosen
is view the exhibit, rather than about the exhibit itself.
The main focus of the "El Caminoville" exhibit is the
nultitude of photographs that line one wall of the
,allery. Only the closest photographs are visible, the rest
slurring into the vast background, hinting a message of
he-indifferent America. The photographs document all
srent models of the El Camino in a variety of settings.
;ome of the cars are photographed in rain, others in

77Mentality encourages 'U'
L to come 'Out of the Attic'

Mike Rogers has captured El Caminos around the country.
bright sunshine; one is in front of Staples, another in
front of Subway; some are parked in front of run-down
houses, others in mall parking lots.
It is clear that Rogers intended this to be representative
of the different facets of American life. Along with pic-
tures of these El Camino sightings is a logbook recording
when and where each photograph was taken, adding a
formalized, historical aspect.
All the photographs exude the impression of having been
taken by a careless passerby. With such documentation of
"the ordinary," along with the public access television qual-
ity of the video interviews, it is clear that Rogers intended
viewers of "El Caminoville" to question themselves and the
ordinary through his visions of the popular car.
The problem still remains on the question of art and
how it differs from mere documentation. "El
Caminoville" provides no assistance to answering such a
question while still using the redundant techniques of
postmodern art that constantly pose the problem. The
time has come to move on, and Rogers' seems to be wast-
ing a lot of time and energy holding us back in the
cliched metaphors of the blurred, ambitious visions of
documentation as art.
"El Caminoville" will be on display Oct. 29 through
Nov. 30 between 11a.m. and 4 p.m. in the Jean Paul
Slusser Gallery, Art and Architecture Building.

By Nick Falzone
Daily Arts Writer
In a world of keeping up appear-
ances, it is often difficult for us to
find a place where we can admit that
we are different than others, espe-
cially when these differences are
psychologically based. But
Mentality, a
campus group
dedicated to
mental health
Out of the awareness and
AttiC advocacy, hopes
Michigan League to bring a safe
Underground space to the
Tomorrow at 8:30 p.m. University com-
munity where
issues can be
discussed openly
and candidly.
They plan to
attempt this goal
in part through their forthcoming
stage performance, "Out of the
The group's show will consist of
musical performances, poetry read-
ings, dialogues and monologues that
discuss the issue of mental health
without stigmatizing the controver-
sial topic.
Yet as Summer Berman, co-direc-
tor of Mentality, pointed out, few of
us even correctly understand the
concept of mental health.

While most people assume that
mental health only concerns negative
psychological effects, Berman
explained that "mental health resides
on a continuum. You're not ill, you're
not well; rather, it slides" constantly
from one end to the other, varying
between people.
"Everyone has mental health so it
can't be separated or cut off from
health in its entirety," she said.
LSA sophomore Julia Klein, a
member of Mentality, explained that
all of the pieces about mental health
the group will present in their show
have been used in previous perfor-
She added that the age of the mate-
rial is one of the reasons Mentality
selected the show's title.
"These are pieces we have used
throughout the past years so we're
taking them out of the attic" for the
performance, Klein said. "It's a best-
of show."
Berman said that to avoid a
"sappy, after-school special feel,"
this and all Mentality performances
consist only of pieces that the
group's members have written them-
In addition, to keep "Attic" realis-
tic, all of the works deal with the
authors' personal experiences with
mental health. For instance, accord-
ing to Klein, the first piece, "Side
Effects," deals with various respons-

es the group's members have heard
about people who use psychiatric
"We bring up the issue and try to
make people think about it in differ-
ent ways," Klein said. "It provides a
lot of perspective about taking medi-
Berman added that the viewpoints
Mentality offers to its audience do
not always coincide with the specta-
tors' opinions. Nor does the group
want them to.
"The point is to share our stories
with you," Berman said. "They're
not necessarily going to be your
experience and they're not necessari-
ly going to be how you would deal
with them."
Berman added that as important as
the performance itself is the interac-
tive audience dialogue at the end of
every Mentality show. Here, the
audience can voice their concerns,
ask questions, discuss their opinions
of the show and talk about mental
health in general with the pieces'
performers. And Berman says the
response the group receives from the
audiences is often surprisingly posi-
"There's rarely an outlet where
you can admit your mental issues,
where you won't be judged," Berman
"It's amazing how much people
will open up if you uncork the issue."

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