Ian Sullivan Opening: Come Back To Me / by Heather Topcik

Tuesday evening marked the first opening of the Society for Domestic Museology featuring the work of Ian Sullivan.  Ian is the creative genius behind the exhibition design at the Bard Graduate Center and is also an artist in his own right who works across a wide variety of media.  Mindful of the "domestic" context of our gallery, Ian chose to show a series of work completed over a number of years that plays with ideas of space and home.  

Over a period of more than 10 years, Ian worked as an art handler and courier, often staying for long periods of times in hotel rooms when working on installations.  He started to dismantle and rearrange the often generic and familiar hotel room furniture: bed, bedding, pillows, side tables, etc., creating "forts" that he would light and photograph.  The results are an ethereal series of slide photographs, shot on tungsten film, that are both familiar and mysterious, transforming the basic building blocks of a generic hotel room into some kind of magical dwelling.    

On our wall, he hung a large version of one of the prints on plexiglass and it has been like living with a doorway into another world.  Looking into another, glowing room of sorts that stands in stark contrast to the prosaic nature of our living room.  It has inspired conversations about forts and architecture and has truly changed the space.

The installation of the work was it's own kind of performance piece.  On a Monday evening, in the short window between work, feeding kids and the guests arriving, Ian showed up in our apartment with a drill and some vinyl lettering and in about 20 minutes had expertly "created" our gallery, complete with signage.

He hung one print of his series on the gallery wall, but for the opening, he devised a temporary installation whereby he set up 3 slide projectors around our apartment to show the series in various unusual spaces.  One projected into our bathroom and onto the venetian blind, the next down our hallway onto a closed door, and the last was onto a cabinet in our living room.  Once everyone was assembled and food and drink was distributed, Ian gave a slide show and short talk on the origins of this particular series which made for great discussion.  Here's my advice: if you want to have a great party, get your hands on a slide projector.

We had about 25 attendees the first night and held a smaller "gallery talk" about a month later. So far, this Domestic Museology project is off to a great start.  Every day, I walk into my apartment thinking about errands and bills and tasks and then I see our installation and it shakes me out of the routine, at least for a moment.  Mission Accomplished.