foundation for architecture and Design


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After Party

Year : 2015

Location : Jai and Jai Gallery, Chinatown Los Angeles

Description : Pinata reflected and mirrored + confetti room

Video : Confetti Room

Press : Featured on 5 Everyday LA

Review by Courtney Coffman

"After  Party, a  sculptural installation  by Grey Crowell opened at  Jai & Jai Gallery in Chinatown  last month. Known for installations  that flirt with contemporary issues in   architectural practice and representation, Jai  & Jai have hosted rigorously playful exhibitions  in the past, such as Goods Used: An Architectural  Yard Sale and Chess: Endgame, and After Party is another  foray into a delightful world is inspired by the work of John  Baldessari and Yayoi Kusama. Crowell’s kitschy forms and brightly colored  installation divides the slender gallery into two rooms: a long front gallery   and a smaller square room. Crowell activates the front gallery’s architectural  envelope as an armature for the work by hanging a festive drop ceiling of locally  sourced piñatas that hovers inches above a glowing fluorescent horizon line. The ready-­‐made  piñatas tessellate symmetrically across the ceiling, evoking a lavish baroque aesthetic. The composition  centerpiece is a splayed watermelon embraced by fringed rainbows and flanked with strawberries, unicorns and  voluptuous papier-­‐mâché buns. Exploring the patterns of the ceiling above, party guests are lead to the  back of the gallery and slip through white felted curtains reminiscent of LA vernacular car washes and emerge  within a soft space. The walls are comprised of feathered, white tissue paper walls, giving a tactile and intimate  quality to the room—an Alice in Wonderland effect of shrinking down guests to fit inside the piñata cadaver. The uninitiated  are showered in confetti dots that flutter in the air among flickering light and float among the colorful remnants on the ground.  Donning confetti coifs, guests exiting the piñata are brought back to full-­‐scale with an offering table positioned outside the second  room. The table has a curvy base comprised of derriere piñatas and is topped with a giant claim unfurling fortune cookie bounty, evocating   Botticelli’s Venus. Guests clumsily battle the cellophane envelope of their individually wrapped eucharists and crack open the confections in search  of the prolific paper pearl. It is here at the intersection between piñatas and fortune cookies, that the moment of superstitious truth is unveiled  and the revelation that each cookie contains a nondescript, blank fortune. Given the empty signifier of each cookie, the installation suggests a deeper,   conceptual narrative about participation and spectacle, and the boundaries between installation art and architecture, venerating the question, ‘What was the main event   before this After Party?’ Since party-­‐goers have yet to take a swing at the piñatas, it is hopeful that the exhibition’s closing event at Jai & Jai will provide bashing  batons to break the baroque (ceiling), spilling disciplinary delight everywhere, and fulfilling the carte blanche prophecy that anything is up for grabs.