Bury Me for the Dogs
Artwork by Eli Show
Now – July 9, 2023
Visual Arts Center | Contemporary Gallery
We can see glimpses of the past through art and architecture, but seeing and understanding might be two vastly different things. We witness through contemplation. The things that rattle through your head. The memories that hold you. This exhibit is inspired by ideas and places that have held Artist Eli Show in pause. He feels he is merely recreating things and showing them in relationship to each other, and his art practice is primarily an act of curation or assemblage. Witnessing Bury Me for the Dogs will create ideas that certainly keep rattling through your head.
First and foremost, I wanted to make an artwork like a Murakami novel, one filled with mood and myth. To give a space life, something that breathes like a city, brooding and steeped in history.
I’ve been thinking a lot about time beyond ourselves. Trying to realize the depth of time, which seems out of reach of our senses. We can see glimpses of the past through art and architecture, but seeing and understanding might be two vastly different things.
I’ve been more and more entranced by architecture and the built environment, coming from the Midwest to living in New York City and then traveling to different countries. This vastness of creation and the age of buildings, especially in India. We walked through a tomb built in the 1300s. It appeared as if the ground was trying to absorb it back into itself. Besides the fact that this was a public park now, and millions of people have passed through it. I think that’s where the conversations start to merge, in the separation of public and private in bigger cities. And then, how much use spaces get from a bigger population and then the accrual of histories because of that. I had a similar experience in NYC. Walking everywhere, it was an arresting experience to be in such a tightly compacted city, always encountering a barrage of information and collapsing histories. This sensation of exploration was something seared into me and was missing from my practice until I traveled with my family to Aizawl in Mizoram.
My most recent experience in Aizawl in northeast India also reinforced this love of the built environment. The gradual buildup of sculptural space and history. Walking through the city was a complete enchantment. A labyrinth that I was privy to see and transverse. I love how necessity and happenstance, built paths and leading lines of telephone and power cables coupled with cement and the natural environment. Everything held this visible history of invention that is often hidden when space is plentiful. These spaces that you can move through, that exist so close together that almost every space becomes a blur of public and private, gave me pause and a completely new sense of exploration and passage.
I’ve been stuck with a few ideas recently, trying to write this statement and contextualize the artwork. I’ve come across Ananda Coomaraswamy talking about craftsmen from the past and how art now acts more as a superstition rather than a utility. And then, just more simply, pondering about poetry and mood. My wife sent me a writing by C.C. about trying to find the poem of a thing, referring to poetry as a concentrated imaginative awareness of experience, which was spot on for this installation work for me. Relating then back to Coomaraswamy’s explanation of the craftsman as an artist is merely reproducing within their ability and style a representation of the perfect image of reality, which they witness through contemplation. And I land hard on the emphasis of witness through contemplation. The things that rattle through your head. The memories that hold you. I also like the idea that this pushes the authorship away from being solely mine. Because I don’t believe this is an individual’s work. Most of this is inspired by ideas and places that have held me in pause. So, I am merely recreating things and showing them in relationship to each other. My art practice is primarily an act of curation or assemblage.
Eli Show is an artist living and working in Sioux Falls. He attended the University of South Dakota and went on to receive his Master of Fine Arts degree from Syracuse University in New York, where he lived for a number of years. Show is the preparator (“the builder of exhibits”) at the Old Courthouse Museum; a member of Hooks (formerly We All Have Hooks For Hands) for over 15 years, touring the country multiple times and releasing records worldwide; and currently serves as the Art Director for Headlights Theater, a local nonprofit bringing professional dance and music performances to parking lots.
South Dakota Arts Council support is provided with funds from the State of South Dakota, through the Department of Tourism, and the National Endowment for the Arts.