Allison Lacher at Monaco
By Maggie Kunze
October 15, 2018
I’m wearing my winter coat the day I visit Allison Lacher’s exhibition Full Sun (the sun being nowhere in sight), but just a week ago, the high reached 90 degrees in St. Louis. Without the undeterred peddling of all things pumpkin by every coffee shop in town, one could be forgiven for forgetting that it is, in fact, October.
The brick facade of the gallery has been painted a dark gray, giving nothing away except that this corner of the city has been carved out for The Contemporary. But from within the neutral frame of Monaco, a warm glow is emanating.
From the street, the interior space is inviting, with a peachy orange coat of paint and floors speckled with iridescent floral cutouts (over the course of a month, Lacher’s work has indeed served as an escape from both the cold and the heat). However, once inside, the comfort of room temperature begins to give way to a sense of hollow domesticity.
Hung throughout the space are window panes, stretched over with bars of ribbon, that reveal nothing beyond the flat orange walls. Blocks of plywood, stickered with reflective, neon silhouettes of lamps, balance on precariously high tables. Perhaps “table” is the wrong word, as the table tops themselves are merely empty frames. These are line drawings in space, with no planes to speak of. On another yellow “table” rests blocks that bear the images of a pie and kitchen knives. This is a space of unusable objects: hollow tables, lamps that offer no light of their own, and the quintessential american dessert, as unreal as the tools used to slice it. The chromatic extremes imitate the effect of direct sunlight, flattening forms rather than casting them into relief.
The reflective vinyl possesses an entrancing quality—the pattern shifting and dancing as I move around it. In the corner of the gallery, where two windowed walls meet, is the shimmering form of a snake appearing to slither in from outside, toward the center of the room. It’s an omen of danger, a remnant of the outside world, invading our domestic mirage, or rather, escaping the ever more extreme conditions that also drive us to seek shelter. It is then that I recall the vinyl’s resemblance to warning signs.
Looking past the snake I notice that the flowers beneath bear the scuff marks of visitors’ shoes—evidence of the human footprint, both inside and outside the gallery.
This article is part of Sixty Regional, an ongoing initiative by Chicago-based arts publication Sixty Inches From Center which partners with artists, writers, and artist-run spaces throughout the Midwest and Illinois to highlight the artwork being produced across the region. This work is made possible through the support of Illinois Humanities, which is supported in part by the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Illinois General Assembly through the Illinois Arts Council Agency, as well as by contributions from individuals, foundations, and corporations.
Maggie Kunze is an artist, writer, and poet, who earned her BFA in Painting from Illinois State University in 2016. Kunze currently lives and works in Normal, IL. Her writings have been published by Sixty Inches From Center and Catfish Creek.