The Great Rivers Biennial is a collaboration between the Contemporary and the Gateway Foundation (link http://www.gateway-foundation.org/launch.html ) designed to strengthen the local art scene in St. Louis. As many as three artists are selected by a panel of esteemed national jurors to receive an award of $15,000 each and an exhibition at the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis.
Jason Wallace Triefenbach’s exhibition encompasses a multi-media installation comprised of performance, music, spoken word, sculpture, and props. For two days, Triefenbach conducted a live performance at the Contemporary which he videotaped and then edited with additional footage shot off-site. Sculptures and props from the performance reside in the gallery as residue of what previously occurred, and the video is displayed on monitors within the space. With these various components, Triefenbach creates a woven four-part narrative that is part autobiography, part fiction, and is based upon a central character, the Protagonist Everyman, and his frustration with an overabundance of pop culture, fear of living in obscurity, and his attempt to escape from it all. According to Triefenbach, “This piece is a conglomeration of half finished puzzles, jokes, and associations—beginnings of stories or a bit from the middle, but never the whole picture.”
Moses designs large-scale works that capture, monumentalize, and challenge the contemporary culture of hip-hop. In his exhibition, he assembles massive structures that house electronic equipment such as speakers, old stereo components, turntables, records, mixers, and microphones. Moses chops, reassembles, paints, hangs, and boasts about the 1,500 records, 351 speakers, 148 old stereo components, 42 turntables, three giant photographs, one microphone, and an SUV outfitted with hundreds of speakers throughout its exterior. The audio equipment amassed in the exhibition represents three years of national travel to collect over 50 years of consumer sound producing electronics.
Matthew Strauss has created a new series of contemporary still life paintings, entitled POEMS that are akin to the vanitas tradition, wherein artists employed simple imagery to create complex comments on materialism and transcendence, illusions and reality, and life and death. This dark, mysterious, and occasionally bitingly funny work possesses all these qualities, yet the target of his critique—the symbol of the vanity of worldly things—is the art historical canon.