Adam Ekberg (2007)


Adam Ekberg

Time Out Chicago by Jeremy Ohmes

Coming soon to an art museum gift shop or novelty store near you is the postcard version of Adam Ekberg’s “Disco Ball” series, featuring Disco Ball on the Plains, Disco Ball at the Board of Exchange and the piece that, ahem, got the ball rolling, Disco Ball in the Woods. We hope it doesn’t come to this, but overly quirky, trite, empty art such as Chicago artist Ekberg’s video installation tends to go this mass-produced route and, more often than not, ends up in a pile of coffee-table white elephants or at the bottom of the bathroom reading rack.

Disco Ball in the Woods is what it is—a four-and-a-half-minute video loop of a disco ball spinning light onto the snow in the scenic woods of Maine—and the way the light skips across the snow in square symmetry and occasionally flashes like a phosphorescent spike through the shimmering orb is altogether serene, hypnotic and mystical. The video installation takes over a large part of the gallery space and can be viewed from the street through the large storefront window.

But the piece’s out-of-place, artificial-within-the-natural concept comes off as not only clichéd, but also questionable. Is it supposed to be spiritual? Existential? Self-referential or a comment on nature and society?

When you take an object out of its everyday context and place it in an unexpected setting as so many artists have done, you can naturally pose all of these questions. But because the concept itself is hackneyed and formulaic, the questions that follow are sure to be, too. Maybe the biggest question is: If a disco ball spins in the woods, does anyone see it, or, more important, does anyone care?—Jeremy Ohmes

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