Systemic Expansion, David Katz’s on-site, large-scale installation, starts from a definite point of origin: a corner of the Artist’s Hall inside the Houston Center for Contemporary Craft. From there, the clay-wrapped wire structure begins to extend chaotically throughout the hallway’s length, growing web-like branches and finally ending in an infinite loop covered by maroon-colored boxes.
If you look at it another way, Systemic Expansion starts at the box-covered loop and travels back down the opposite length of the hallway, this time converging finitely in the aforementioned spot.
“[It] reorients the idea of what this space is,” Katz said of the high-slung installation. As an installation artist, Katz’s focus, more than creating works of art, is working with and ultimately changing the perception of the spaces in which his pieces are housed. “I’m interested in the way humans occupy space.”
This explains the “on-site” facet of his works as well; though Katz is sent pictures of the spaces in which he will be setting up his installations beforehand — he was invited to Houston by curatorial fellow Susie Silbert about eight weeks ago — he is never sure of what the precise dimensions of the space will be upon his arrival, forcing him to alter existing parts of the installation and create others — the wire-in-clay strands — at the location. “It changed along the way a lot,” said Katz of the evolving piece.
And once the exhibition is done, he destroys the entire thing.
“There’s no way of preserving it,” said the artist, a recent MFA graduate who lives in Bloomington, Indiana by way of Madison, Wisconsin.
Systemic Expansion is as philosophical as it is geographical. Silbert looks at the whole thing as an artistic reimagining of life: the purple boxes are buildings, “like cityscapes,” she says, with the spread-out, spider web clay throughout the people that live in those buildings.
Another way to look at the piece? Systemic Expansion represents the truth that we are all born, we manifest, we exist, hence the marked spot on the wall where the installation begins. If we’re lucky, we grow from there, but in what direction, we know not, hence the clay that spreads like moss down the length of the hallway. If we’re luckier, we eventually become settled (or settle) with our lot in life, hence the box-covered, closed loop. Or, if we are daring enough, we circle around that loop, choosing the path of an entirely new life, traveling down the hallway once more.
Systemic Expansion will be on view at the Houston Center for Contemporary Craft until August 11. For more information, visit crafthouston.org or call 713-529-4848.