7/10/09 7:06 PM
Air drying, setting down roots, just hanging out—these are common enough phrases, but in the hands of Michelle Foster, they take on the wholly unexpected quality of being dry and witty observations on life. In “Air Dry,” a striped doll’s shirt gets hung, literally, off a sky blue piece of paper, onto which a clothesline has been drawn and two clouds tacked. In “Roots Tent,” “Roots Tipi,” and “Roots Trailer,” these otherwise mobile dwelling units find themselves literally setting down roots, as earth-colored radicles burrow into the ground beneath them. And in the sweet feminist one-liner “Just Hanging Out, Waiting for Ken — Functional Shelf,” two Barbies do just that: attached by the tops of their heads to the bottom of a wall shelf, they defy gravity (as Barbie’s body always has) and wait for their dates to arrive. These examples are all Foster at her best: literal yet twisted, political yet quick. Less successful are her assemblages on board, which despite winning titles and premises lack the composure and tightness of her other work. One of them, “I Am Not All Washed Up, I Am Still Standing,” a gowned woman juxtaposed with a rowboat, is so good in principle it deserves to be remade. Clearly Foster has the smarts to do that and more.