Arts / Museums

Emergency Measures in Dallas

Media Fearmongering Examined in Arresting Power Station Show

BY // 09.10.15

The current show at Dallas’ The Power Station reminded me of Robert Thurman, founder of Tibet House in New York and the most respected Buddhist scholar in the West. He delivered a talk at Omega Institute (Rhinebeck, NY) wherein he reminded listeners, “The media sells two things: fear and want.” We are made to be fearful of government, lack of religion, religion of the “other” and a host of things too numerous to mention. And, of course, we are sold things — anything — to assuage the feelings of the aforementioned fear. Narratives saturate the contemporary world — and the “story” becomes the ambient world in which we operate. And much of the work in the Emergency Measures installation parses this situation in interesting ways.

Jill Magid’s work Failed States, 2011, is footage relating gunfire at the Texas State Capitol. No one was injured; however, she was present during the event and her testimony was aired on a news program. Magid subsequently took the footage and uses it as a “document” that helps us understand the ways the judicial system operates and how “news” functions as fearmongering. (Breathless reporters repeatedly announce a non-event meant to instill panic.) However, “the news” is the story, the myth, in which we operate — and it’s interesting to see the process examined via an artist’s point of view. Magid gives our lives an examined context; thus, we’re provided a (refreshing) means to assess what is true.

Rodney Graham's "Halcyon Sleep," 1994
A still from Rodney Graham’s “Halcyon Sleep,” 1994

Secondly, Rodney Graham’s video Halcyon Sleep, 1994, shows the artist asleep (in attractive striped pajamas) while lights flicker around him as he — presumably — dreams undisturbed. I was told that the title of the piece was a homonym for the sleep-inducing drug Halcion. Thus, are we to think of ourselves as dosed-up somnambulists? Unpleasant? Yes. Plausible? Maybe.

Other artists include: Mark Manders, K.r.m. Mooney, Lais Myrrha, R.H. Quaytman and Alona Rodeh.

Emergency Measures, September 5 – October 9, 2015, at The Power Station.

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