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.