Crickets in the City of Spare Parts: Dan Herschlein at Matthew Brown
Dan Herschlein’s solo exhibition Crickets in the City of Spare Parts explores concepts of Security as itpertains to gender, the home, and the self. The artist says of this idea, “I think it might be helpful tounderstand this need for security as an addiction in order to recognize the irrational behaviors it induces such as categorization, exclusion, violence, and most ironically fears and phobias (mainly of categories that have been defined as other.)” The title of the exhibition is meant to evoke an atmosphere of collapsing machines and fragmented bodies—those cast aside aspects of our selves and cultures. The mood of the exhibition, while at times somber, is ultimately one of playfulness that encourages reinvention: a repurposing of existing tools and mechanisms. Here, Herschlein depicts a world of new bodily possibilities and harmonies, searching for alternative ways of soothing rather than securing.
Herschlein’s work has traditionally dealt with the fragmentation of the body. These disembodied parts tend to reveal themselves suddenly and seemingly through a will of their own. In order to emphasize the unnerving qualities of these occurrences, Herschlein draws on the tropes and framing devices commonly used in horror films—such as unusually high or low high or low to the ground point of view—to emphasise banal elements of the composition such as baseboards, molding, or the texture of the wall. In a further shift of expectation, faces lose all significance in Herschlein’s work as they are continually reduced to shadows, silhouettes, or sacks tied up with strings. A strong focus is instead placed on the behaviors and gestures of hands, feet, limbs, and torsos. For the artist, these body parts often supersede the face in terms of importance when defining the self.