Scott Horsley: YOUR LAND or something like it
by Glenna Jennings

[interior: 500 sq. ft. of white cube]

I want to show you something!

But first, here is a helmet to protect you from dangerously high-heeled shoes, impotently toxic candy wrappers, swim fins, plastic bags, jelly fish, the occasional omnipotent octopus and other consumer fall-out.

As we venture forth, watch out for those men in a graphic/graphite circle jerk of post-industrial proportion (rocking out with their cocks out) and try not to fall victim to flying engine parts cast from auto-combusted Hummers. Oh, and you'll need this Hazmat suit (the fear-based fashion of hazardous-materials-evasion looks good on everyone, hiding most physical signs of gluttony and/or filling out flat asses!)

As we move along, please don't be afraid to sit and check your email on one of those MacBooks -- free wireless issues from your body at cellular level here, and this is gonna be a long ride, so you'll want an empty inbox to fill with all the fantastical floating signifier-souvineers Scott Horsley's landscape-void so generously offers up.

Dorothy, if we're not in Kansas anymore, then where are we?

TS Elliot's Hollow Men issued the post liberal-humanist whimper with which he ended the world. But this is not that world. Scott's world exists in Perfect Preterite, it has ended, and it accomplished this apocalypse with a bang, then a burst, and 300 more booms that culminate in an orgasmic explosion whose ejaculate has spawned a parallel universe on paper, pain-stakingly rendered with pencil for a contemplation and enjoyment that prompts frequent choruses of "that's so cool!"

But there is far more at stake here than hipster-cool works on paper. Scott Horsley's art touches on crisis of many colors: environmental, economic, ecological, linguistic, scientific, gendered, and, of course, the father figure of Art World Angst himself: the Crisis of Representation.

Are you still with me? (this part of the tour is free!)

Scott Horsley's current show at compactspace Gallery provides the shuttle for our journey, and, conveniently, we are greeted by two gallery sitters who characteristically ignore us as we pass by, engaged in their own reproductive contemplations of re-presentation. One uni-sexed, Hazmat-suited figure peers steadily through a tethered video camera while its adjacent twin punches away at a lap-top, attacking the delicate keys with oversized protective hand-gear.

These twinned drawings are carefully nailed to the wall with roughly 3 feet of negative space separating their respective endeavors. But our discerning gazes discover the umbilical -- the technologies the twin figures cradle from the comfort of fold-out chairs are working in tandem, with Scott's conjuring paper picking up where the empiricizing wall has left off. Floating in the jetsam of their gray and white world (plastic bags, rolls of duck tape, a de-magicized carpet), this pair partakes in one of the games rampant throughout Scott's world: looking at stuff that we can't see.

It is, after all, what is made invisible in these figurative drawings that creates the space in which we viewers are traveling. This is the landscape that late capitalism has so generously rendered for us; which is to say, there is no landscape at all (so no reservations are necessary).

In another of Horsley's large-scale tandem drawings, a headless figure in street-clothes (remarkably akin to those in which you might see the artist on any given day) examines a de-peopled boat through a suspiciously analog pair of binoculars. Is this vessel (also accompanied by its jetsam) abandoned, capsized or afloat? Is the de-capitated spectator a marooned victim or an undercover investigator? Is the line of suited figures in the upper right corner descending to claim territory or fleeing a toxic catastrophe? We will not gain any clues from the absent geography, but as free-born readers we can certainly map-up the space if we so desire. As we traverse this duo-dimension of milky white we can project any number of plots and escapades and desires onto Scott's seemingly willing paper -- but we will, of course, run the risk of anyone who decides to colonize the invisible through such fancy flights of projection and self-indulgence.

Scott is aware of the connotative powers of his work and passionate about the issues it evokes. But he remains something of a mystery when it comes to its genesis. He does not promote an agenda by peppering the work with cleverly wrought theoretical quips or political statements -- after all, one has little control over the effects of Nuclear Fall Out.

I lied earlier. This is not a long ride. In fact, our fancy flight of projection is almost over. As another Eliot reference tickles my ear, I share it with you (while you take off your Hazmat and show your nakedness to an awed and snickerless crowd and prepare for your return to a world void of the walking headless):

The eyes are not here
There are no eyes here
In this valley of dying stars
In this hollow valley
This broken jaw of our lost kingdoms

In this last of meeting places
We grope together
And avoid speech
Gathered on this beach of the tumid river

Sightless, unless
The eyes reappear
As the perpetual star
Multifoliate rose
Of death’s twilight kingdom
The hope only
Of empty men.

But Scott's men (if that they are) are not so much hollow as constructs of some bio-engineered DNA he picked up from a lost Phd student during an all-nighter in his earlier RISDI years.This is not the Wasteland, the post-primordial pit,the Jonestown afterlife, the Disney Holocaust, the peopled Tabula Rasa, the Ground Zero where Melancholic Nostalgia meets War-Time Angst and/or self-congratulation. This is not a Kansas, a Vietnam, an Abu Graib, a Chernobyl, a Main Street, Wall Street, Juarez or any other site specific place of timely loss and tragedy. THIS land is your land, THIS land is my land, from the graphite Target bag shell of an impulse purchase to the blank white stretches of expensive paper that have implicated us in a dance of creation and negation since first we first laid eyes on Scott's oeuvre.

THIS land was made for you and me.