September 18, 2009 - Blanton Museum of Art - Jim Drain
September 18, 2009

Jim Drain

Video still, 2009. Courtesy of the Artist.

Jim Drain
I Will Show You the Joy-Woe Man, 2009

Through November 1, 2009

Blanton Museum of Art
The University of Texas at Austin
MLK at Congress

The Blanton Museum of Art is pleased to present I Will Show You the Joy-Woe Man, a new multi-media installation by internationally recognized, Miami-based artist Jim Drain.

The epic poem Gilgamesh resonated in Jim Drain’s mind last spring as he came to Austin to make this new project for The Blanton’s WorkSpace series. An ancient coming-of-age story from Mesopotamia (present-day Iraq), the myth pairs a disenchanted ruler, Gilgamesh, with his half-wild twin, Enkidu. Together, they journey through different worlds, exploring changing identities in a quest for adventure and, perhaps, immortality. The experiences they encounter, the choices they must make along the way, all posit wildness against responsibility, darker impulses against knowledge and transcendence.

I Will Show You the Joy-Woe Man—a series of projected video vignettes embellished with ambient sound and sculptural elements—is Drain’s impressionistic response to the tale of Gilgamesh, who has counterparts in contemporary popular culture, including video game and comic book heroes. It was as if looking through the eyes of such archetypal, morally ambivalent characters that Jim first sought images and settings in Austin for the filming project. Ominous oaks, bat-filled skies, and grackle squawks abound in the final phantasmagorical work, the result of a five-week residency.

WorkSpace is an invitation to experiment. Revisiting a strategy from his days as a member of the Providence-based Forcefield music/performance collective, Drain conceived and directed video performances by local actors over several weeks’ time. Mostly members of the art and music communities, the performers improvised the states of mind that drive Gilgamesh‘s protagonists. Then, editing the footage for eight specific vignettes, Drain projected them within a dense, anthropomorphized installation of recycled objects. Hallucinogenic images rotate around the upper and lower registers of the 800 square foot gallery, creating a fragmented space-in-the-round that brims with material and sensorial detail.

Jim Drain holds a BFA from the Rhode Island School of Design and completed a DAAD residency in Berlin in 2008.  He was a member of Forcefield, an artists’ collective from Providence R.I. that showed at the Whitney Biennial in 2002, and has since had solo exhibitions in New York, Los Angeles and Brussels, as well as at Art Basel Statements.

Jim Drain will speak about his WorkSpace installation on Thursday, October 15 at 7 PM at the Blanton Museum of Art. FREE

WorkSpace at the Blanton
WorkSpace showcases cutting-edge developments in the work of emerging and established contemporary artists on the museum’s second floor, serving as a coda to the modern and contemporary collection galleries. The exhibitions that result from these artistic investigations provide Blanton visitors ever-changing glimpses into the art of the present moment.

WorkSpace: Jim Drain is generously supported by members of the Blanton Contemporary Salon. The exhibition is curated by Annette DiMeo Carlozzi, the Blanton’s Director of Curatorial Affairs and Curator of American and Contemporary Art.

Blanton Museum of Art
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