Clifton Childree: Orchestrated Gestures

Nov. 27, 2010 - Jan. 22, 2011

Opening reception Nov. 27, 2010, 6 p.m. - 9 p.m.

In Orchestrated Gestures, Clifton Childree will exhibit new sculptures, with film and audio components, in the form of old arcade machines. Each of these three machines conveys sketched-out narratives associated with musical pieces by composers Scott Joplin, Richard Wagner and Alexander Scriabin. Childree's arcade games elaborate on and combine aspects of his previous work: grotesque slapstick, sweet silent film, self-contained arcade games and large-scale installations that incorporate his films. With Orchestrated Gestures, Childree creates his first exhibition of stand-alone sculptures, each more fully realizing the potential of the arcade game's form and more focused than his all-encompassing installations, like Dream-Cum-Tru at Locust Projects in 2008.

The first machine re-enacts the untimely end of ragtime composer Scott Joplin. A blend of fact and extrapolation, Childree's story of Joplin is relayed by the film and its housing - the arcade game. The film in this piece shows Childree performing as Joplin playing piano in a bordello. The arcade built around the film comes across as a version of the strength-and-hammer game. In the arcade game's physical structure re-enacting a part of the story that its film describes, so much that the story haunts the inanimate game. Similarly, the second arcade game acts out the story of Ludwig II of Bavaria, known as "Mad King Ludwig," the patron of Richard Wagner, whose music accompanies the game. The king's effeminate character and his ignoble death are fodder for Childree's exaggerations and hyperbole - all part of the slapstick style. The third machine crystallizes the character of composer Alexander Scriabin, a hypochondriac who died when a small boil he picked at became infected. Scriabin's unfinished masterpiece, Mysterium, accompanies the machine's telling of his story. Each of the musical pieces in this exhibition was either unfinished or lost, yet another beauty Childree finds in attenuated states of being.

A brochure featuring excerpts from an interview with Childree will accompany the exhibition. View the brochure (PDF).


Orchestrated Gestures installation view


Gone-Aria-Rag, mixed media installation


Gesamtkunstwerk, mixed media installation


Mysterium, mixed media installation