Seattle-based artist Jennifer Zwick has a new installation, “I’m Pretty Sure This is Exactly Right,” up until June 28th, that has quietly infiltrated a public street space with a window into a private realm — that of the divided human consciousness. This piece is a part of the Storefronts Seattle program that seeks to “revitalize neighborhoods” by putting art and art experiences into empty storefronts, keeping the vibrant neighborhood culture alive while businesses try to heal from this recession. To me this is a perfect fit for her work, a tiny peek into a flip-flopped world where art helps out business, and the divide between multiple states of being is not really as clear as it may first appear. Though primarily known for her photographs, this little constructed world — of a dark jungle scene on top and a domestic interior mirrored and suspended below — reflects much of what I feel when I see most of her work.
It’s like almost being able to touch the slightly off-kilter images of nature she presents, but still keeping us confined behind glass. The anxiety it makes me feel is like a subtle itch, but then her anxiety slides up beside and takes the hand of my anxiety and we all skip off together with hell in our hand-basket. I’m sucked in because I know the ship is going down, but her work lets me know it might just all be okay with one tiny flip of perspective. I did a free-association cherry pick of her work I felt drawn to, and when looking at the pieces all together like tea-leaves I found my own concerns reflected back, that of the anxious human standing on the threshold between wanting to vanish into nature and wanting to be a part of polite society, of losing self but also wanting to. Our big brain and vulnerable bodies give us the ability to compartmentalize and separate ourselves from even our own bodies and desires, in order to survive.
But it is these compartments that Zwick teases apart with a self-deprecating tomfoolery until the divide only seems like a shadow of the same thing. It will (never) get better, unless and especially if you break through and dive into the other side of yourself, outside of yourself. The installation is at 409 Maynard Avenue South (the lower space, looking onto Maynard Ave), in Seattle, Wa. until June 28th.