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Ballroom Marfa presents Strange Attractor, opening reception Friday

March 9th, 2017 under Arts

MARFA – Ballroom Marfa is proud to present Strange Attractor, a group exhibition organized by guest curator Gryphon Rue. Strange Attractor will be on view in Marfa from March–August, with an opening reception from 6 – 8:30pm on Friday, March 10..

The reception will feature a unique collaborative performance by artist and musician Lonnie Holley and psych duo Tonstartssbandht, with visuals by Benton C Bainbridge.

Strange Attractor is an exhibition exploring the uncertainties and poetics of networks, environmental events, technology, and sound. The term “strange attractor” describes the inherent order embedded in chaos, perceivable in harmonious yet unpredictable patterns.

This mathematical concept is a useful trope for the elusive order in our lived experience, and the vital pursuit of making meaning from unexpected connections. Strange Attractor presents an array of multidisciplinary works tracing the disparity between individual perception and the vast abstractions of the contemporary moment. New and commissioned works employing sound, site and technology form the connective tissue of this expansive terrain.

As part of this process Strange Attractor invites the collision of historical and contemporary artworks in diverse media. The exhibition will feature Alexander Calder’s previously unseen, sound-making, hanging mobile Clangors, (1942) alongside Channa Horwitz’ numerological graphic scores, together with contemporary pieces from artists working in a dazzling range of mediums.

For her newly commissioned work for Strange Attractor, artist Phillipa Horan has been experimenting with mycelium, the single cell root system of which a mushroom is the fruiting body. She has been working with a commercial biotech laboratory in Upstate New York to produce what is possibly the first large-scale figurative sculpture grown from mycelium. The final result will be a “”grown-to-be-shown”” larger-than-life installation of Charon, the ferryman of Greek mythology who transports the dead across the river Styx.

This biotech sculpture will have a usable lifespan of 30 years, after which it will biodegrade and may be regrown by the artist at her discretion.

Strange Attractor will also include a commission from Lucky Dragons, the collaborative project of Sara Rara and Luke Fischbeck. The artists are forging specially designed tuning forks to be installed .

Ballroom courtyard, and broadcasting their tones throughout the town of Marfa on overlapping radio frequencies in a continuously evolving sonic sculpture.”

In addition to these commissions, Strange Attractor will include extant works that further the exhibition’s exploration of networks, environmental events, technology, and sound. Beatrice Gibson’s video F for Fibonacci uses aleatoric music, the computer-generated environments of the video game Minecraft, and talking-head economists, to create a kaleidoscopic satire of capitalism. Robert Buck’s giclée print At the end of the day…” (Holding area, U.S. Customs and Border Protection Nogales Placement Center, Nogales, AZ, June 18, 2014) juxtaposes latticed images with an immense snakeskin, raising questions about the nature of beauty while evoking luxury goods and the psychoanalytic theory of repetition compulsion. Known for his forensic audio investigations and advocacy work, Lawrence Abu Hamdan’s Conflicted Phonemes reflects upon the hybrid nature of accents, and the controversial use of language analysis to determine the origin of asylum seekers. Abu Hamdan’s map-based work offers the asylum seeker an alternative and non-vocal mode of contestation. Haroon Mirza’s Cosmos and Supernova are electroetched manifestations of Lophophora williamsii (peyote), a spineless cactus containing psychoactive alkaloids native to the Chihuahuan Desert of Texas and Mexico. To facilitate the starkly populated images, Mirza placed the cacti on blank copper circuit boards and penetrated the plants with electric current. The etchings display the the residuum of a bond between natural and electronic tools, and elicit perceptual rifts connected to notions of place, ritual and memory. Artist and citizen scientist Thomas Ashcraft presents photographs of upper atmospheric lightning known as transient luminous events or sprites, incorporated in a new body of work from his ongoing art and science project, Heliotown.

Also making its public debut is Douglas Ross’s abstraxi, a 47 x 6.5 foot, Jacquard-woven, cotton tapestry. Its colorful yarn coheres into a nearly photographic panorama of rubble and tire impressions raking across an unsettled landscape. The tapestry is displayed sculpturally as a two-sided, folding screen that will reshape the Ballroom Marfa exhibition space.

With this unique constellation of works Strange Attractor builds on Ballroom Marfa’s reputation for using art as a lens to examine ecology, history, science and technology. Strange Attractor creates an opportunity for audiences to apprehend meaning in an increasingly complex reality. Visitors to this remarkable exhibition will develop a sense of curiosity and agency, and cull meaning from systems and trends that lie at the limits of human comprehension.

Gryphon Rue was born in New York City, where he lives and works as a songwriter, producer, and independent curator.

Selected projects: Curator, Strange Attractor, Ballroom Marfa (2017); Curator, Calder Piece (1966) by Earle Brown, Friends Seminary, New York City (2016); Google Portrait video series ft. Christine Sun Kim and Dean Wareham (2016/17); Google Portrait EP ft. Joakim, Tigersushi Records (2016); Principal performer for LYFE™ by Glass Ghost, co-presented by the David Rubenstein Atrium at Lincoln Center and Performance Space 122, New York City (2015); Curator of music, Eureka, Pace Gallery, New York (2015); Guilt Vacation, vinyl LP under El Tryptophan distributed by Wharf Cat Records (2015); Busy Day,

Christine Sun Kim & Thomas Benno, Droit de Cités (2014); Curator of music, They might well have been remnants of the boat, Calder Foundation, New York, for which he also presented his ensemble piece Vertical Foliage Orchestra (2013); Authoring Calder and Sound” for the exhibition catalogue Alexander Calder: Avant- Garde in Motion, Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, Düsseldorf (2013); Composing mobile soundtracks for the Calder Foundation’s website (2012); Collaboration with Dean & Britta on the EP Good mourning, Short companions (2012); Curator of music, They might well have been remnants of the boat, Calder Foundation, New York, for which he also presented his ensemble piece Playing The Beetles (2011/12); Featured vocalist in Marina Rosenfeld’s Teenage Lontano at the Whitney Biennial, New York (2008); “June Concert and Awareness Tour”, performing in Vietnamese cities and provinces with Peter Yarrow of Peter, Paul and Mary, to raise awareness for victims of AGENT ORANGE, appearing on HTV9 (2008).


“For further information about the exhibition or to schedule interviews, please contact Ballroom Marfa at or (432) 729-3600.”

“About Ballroom Marfa”


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