THE APPALACHIAN SPRING: PAVILION PROJECT (THE AMERICAN PAVILION)

 

The American Pavilion was a collaboration between Appalachian School members Josh Bonnett, Jennifer Lee and Terry Young for Hot House 2006, the recent installment of Sprout Fund's annual fundraising event. The artists created an installation composed of a wood pavillion structure that functions to exhibit works of art by The Appalachian School arts collective.

The American Pavilion, both in name and concept, references an earlier version of a 'Best Of' or 'World's Fair' style exhibition pavillion showcasing the value pinnacle of regional character on a decentralized stage. The ordinary regional (in this case local or underground arts scene) thus becomes unique when grouped on a larger stage or modern spectrum of city-wide arts initiatives that the Sprout Fund venue provides. Visually, the installation mimics the controlled and polished atmosphere popularly assigned to commercial art galleries, contrasting the festival-like atmosphere of the larger event. The Appalachian School uses these contexts to exhibit art work twice removed: once from modern art history and again from commercial clichés of exhibiting work in the market-based gallery system. By exhibiting as such, the artist collective fulfills the myth-like tropes of exhibiting commercial artists (both contemporary and past). The Appalachian School could consider the possibility of commercial sale of their own artwork in the context of The American Pavilion based on the manipulation of conventionally accepted aesthetics for commercial art exchange, while justifying the abuse of 'selling out' with a convenient historicization.

Purposefully, this 'act in an attempt to sell art' within the guise of a public exhibition becomes a site-specific metaphor for the arts and music community in Pittsburgh. While courageously independent, community-based, avant-garde and fiercely critical of establishment structures, local artists are their own worst enemies when critical idealism evades it's own ends and opts to exist separately from established community cultural (funded) institutions (museums, etc.). The missions of these institutions address their specific connection to and interest in the local Pittsburgh community. An example is The Carnegie Museum at 4400 Forbes Avenue. The largest cultural institution in the city specifically states that it's intent is for the benefit of Pittsburghers and whose physical exterior actually reads, inscribed in stone, 'FREE TO THE PEOPLE'. This renders the museum unable to collect entry fees if you challenge a desk attendant simply by walking in and ignoring the 'suggested donation' text in fine print. Simply opposing cultural establishments rather than taking part in the restructuring of these cultural institutions that are part of (funded by you) their communities (nationally by governments) serves purely to reinforce their perceived cultural or aesthetic power, akin to brandishing a weapon and shooting one's self in the foot.

Happening
Saturday 17 June 2006
7:00 until late

Eastside Development near Whole Foods Market
Pittsburgh, PA





Clockwise from top left: Detail (#3 Niagara Falls Series by Jennifer Lee); Hawaiian Pavillion, Seattle World's Fair 1962; Installation View with Centipede E'st (Unicorn Mountain Stage); Poster, by Third Termite Press; Apple Boutique, 94 Baker Street London, 1967-8 (mural by The Fool); Installation View (with Josh Bonnett); Anita Fix (c/o Unicorn Mountain Stage); Installation View.