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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Quite a suit to see

    Art history senior Ryan Mack has a new exhibit in the Lional Rombach Gallery called limbs. Macks exhibit explores multiple mediums such as sound and video and is on display until April 20.
    Art history senior Ryan Mack has a new exhibit in the Lional Rombach Gallery called ‘limbs.’ Mack’s exhibit explores multiple mediums such as sound and video and is on display until April 20.

    Art history senior Ryan Mack’s exhibit is not the “”classic”” art show of work framed and attached to the walls. Even though no oil and

    acrylic can be found, the exhibit is just as intricate and creative due to Mack’s vision of mixing mediums.

    Mack’s exhibition, “”limbs,”” is on display in the Lionel Rombach Gallery until April 20. The exhibit, or installation, as Mack calls it, combines the costume of the classic Western culture suit with elements of ancient Mayan culture by using various mediums such as sound and video.

    “”A suit acts as a cultural indicator of power, masculinity, credibility and class,”” Mack said. “”It’s those powerÿstructures that this installation is trying to explore and subvert.””

    The exhibit takes the form of a quincunx, or four elements positioned in a square around a central one, similar to what the five-side of die looks like. The quincunx is common in the ancient Mayan culture. In this case, the limbs of the suit are the four corners of the quincunx.

    “”The quincunx is usually indicative of a creation story,”” Mack said. “”At the center of this form is often a tree, with its limbs going out to the four corners of the world, just as the limbs of thisÿsuit extend to the corners of the gallery space. The suit is sprawledÿout on a bed covered with white sheets, the arms and legs going down the sides indicating restraint. This central spot is thought of as a place of power, and yet the form the suit takes on seems limp.””

    For two years, Mack has been investigating how men’s clothing, such as the suit, functions as a costume.

    “”The installation attempts to subvert the suit’s cultural functions by changing its form and placing it into a different context,”” Mack said. “”I do this by creating a suit with 30-foot limbs and arranging it in the gallery space with a video projection subtly evoking symbolism from ancient Mayan culture.””

    The way Mack exhibits the suit is anything but the normal way most people see a suit. The encumbrance of the suit in the Western world is paralleled with the context of ancient Mayan culture.

    “”I think our Western cultural lens has really reduced their culture to bloody sacrifices and notions of a savage other,”” Mack said. “”I’m not interested in perpetuating that. Instead I’ve tried to find elements of Mayan iconography that indicated to me the sameÿsorts of hierarchical power structures that the icon of the suit takes on in our culture; the quincunx, the world tree, and phallic rain.””

    The video component of the installation includes a projection of what looks to be rain but what actually is what pre-Hispanic scholars call “”phallic rain,”” Mack said. The video pulsates with sound in the gallery space, creating a sense of uneasiness for the viewer.

    Mack got his start using different mediums as art when he took a new genre class at the UA.

    “”The class allowed me to combine video and performance art along with other art mediums in order to best serve the concept I was trying to get across. I loved working that way and have been doing so ever since,”” Mack said.

    After graduation in August, Mack hopes to eventually go to graduate school. In the meantime, he plans to move to Phoenix for a job in video production or at an art gallery. He ultimately would like to exhibit his artwork in large metropolitan areas like New York and Chicago.

    “”Video and digital technology are what I feel most comfortable working with, so almost all of my artwork involves them in some way,”” Mack said.

    Though the average person is most likely not acquainted with Mack’s technological mediums, people should still be able to take something away after viewing his installation.

    “”The elements of Mayan culture are most likely not recognizable to the average person who just walks into the gallery, and I’m quite aware of that,”” Mack said. “”I think what’s interesting though is how even though they may not know the specifics of these symbols, that a viewer can still comeÿto an understanding of the installation through their experience of the space and what I’ve put in it.””

    The Lionel Rombach Gallery is open Monday through Friday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is free.

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