The Plane, The Ship, The Wall

HJT

Holding Our Own is the title of H. John Thompson’s exhibition at Napoleon this month. The installation consists of three objects, one wall-mounted sculpture containing a plane, one freestanding sculpture containing a ship, and a wall constructed in the back of the gallery. The materials used in the three of these pieces are of the same household materials (L.E.D. lights, pegboard, wainscoting and wood paneling) that have come to define the utilitarian work of H. John Thompson. The number of works in the exhibition suggests a trinity of sorts with the two sculptures functioning as vessels that have a votive likeness to them (and inside them), transforming the space into a chapel and the objects into shrines containing a constructed relic, one as a plane, one as ship. However, unlike in Christian mythology, these objects appear to have no distinguishable hierarchy and are rather presented as pieces to a mythological whole that eulogizes the vessels in two romantically captivating stories of voyage. Using spirituality and science, this installation forces myth and progress to reconcile their opposing ideologies in a quiet and contemplative bout fitting for the theatrical drama of a cold war-era setting that even includes an oppressive wall. The work in this show is as fantastical as the mysteries that inspired the work, leaving the viewer to draw parallels to our contemporary now and questioning how one’s own is held in the omnipotent sublime and the omnipresent state.  Are you there god or state?

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