Taking cues from the 9-5 (or is it 8-6 or longer?) sleep/shower/shave/work/weekend/repeat life, Mark Benson’s solo show, “How was your weekend?” at San Francisco’s Ever Gold Gallery starts with the most common of conversations held in jobs the world over, each and every Monday morning, shining a light on the mundane and repetitive in contemporary work culture.
“So? How was your weekend?”
Benson takes almost-found objects and obsessively recreates them through sculptures and paintings, elevating the sacred weekend activities, placing them on the pedestal of art within the holy walls of the gallery – a show of respect and honor for those times of magic and wonder that people share each and every Monday morning together.
“My weekend? My weekend was awesome. How was your weekend?”
Stuck in time and removed of the backyard, or the beaches, according to the gallery release, “a pall hangs over these moments alluding to them as dead and gone forever, or for at least another business week.”
Much like a poor man’s Damien Hirst, Mark Benson’s work uses transformed, reinterpreted everyday objects to bring to life a variety of contemporary social issues and emotions, from anxiety around productivity to the fear of failure.
“My weekend? We went to the beach. It was awesome”
The question is, does Mr. Benson succeed? In a poor man’s way, yes. Not only does a pall hang over the work, its weekend participants dead and gone, but a mundane repetitiveness hums through the space, from the flapping sweatpant jeans to the perpetually circling beach ball. The show becomes a museum to weekends past, from an ancient time when weekends were a thing. See the beach ball – it goes round and round. Watch the fat pants – they go flap, flap, flap. Everything almost celebrates its own boringness. Even Mr. Benson, who was present, seemed bored by the work, of the gallery, of the visitors, and most of all of that damned question, asked every damn Monday:
“How was your weekend?”
How was his weekend? His weekend was terrible – he fought with his girl, her cat scratched his face, no one bought his art, his friend forgot to include him when they decided to go to the Beauty Bar, on and on and on. How was his weekend? His weekend was shit.
But is any of that in the art? Is Mark Benson in the art? Is there heart in the art? No. It’s all too cynical. There is too much about other people and their stuff, and their stories – those dead vanished people and their awesome weekends.
Those magical moments lost.
Does that mean it’s bad art? No.
Art too can be lonely, mundane, boring, cynical and repetitive. Even good art can be. I guess we are just going to have to keep an eye on this Mark Benson to see how good his gets.
P.S. Give the guy some money to go a little bit bigger. Benson’s work might even find some swagger as a result.
Mark Benson received his MFA from California College of the Arts in 2011. He currently lives in Oakland, CA.
Ever Gold Gallery, 441 O’Farrell St., San Francisco. 415-796-3676. evergoldgallery.com
Written by POVarts West Coast Editor: Chuck Frank