in review: Egress
Candace Hicks’s new exhibit, Egress, is one of mystery. The space at Pump Project seems empty, the walls white and bare. The installation sits in the middle of the room: six white doors arranged in a hexagon. Each door has a peephole and a dial with six buttons in place of a doorknob or where a lock should be. Visitors are meant to walk up to each door and look through the peephole. Behind each door is a miniature diorama of a room that is reminiscent of the locked-room mystery genre of writing that inspired the exhibit. Upon looking through the peephole and pressing the buttons on the dial, words light up and are revealed around the scene of the “crime” behind each successive door.
Elsewhere in the room, Hicks’s writing runs along every wall, forcing the reader to walk the perimeter of the space over and over again. Without giving away the mystery of the exhibit, I can say that the text had a lot to do with the concept of the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon. The Baader-Meinhof phenomenon is when someone comes across something, which can vary from a unique name to a strange phrase, that the person then encounters again, often repeatedly. Hicks’s presentation of words and visuals explores the perpetual motion of the Baader-Meinhof sensation and how familiarity can sometimes feel strange.
I had my own surreal Baader-Meinhof experience at the exhibit, reading a part of her work where Hicks talks about her first locked-room mystery, an Encyclopedia Brown story, the one about the crime scene where the only clue is a puddle in the middle of the room, the puddle being the result of a melted block of ice. The story stuck with me for years after reading it during my childhood, and I was shocked to find the exact same story that I read as a child, the very same experience I had, she had described and then written on the walls I was standing before. I laughed out loud in astonishment. Baader-Meinhof!
The chance of someone else having the same experience that I did seems small, but I think the universal familiarity of Hicks’s words and installation have the possibility to create a home for everyone within the space, which is a rare—and sometimes surprising—thing.
Review and photography by Natalie Walrath.
Egress is on view Saturdays from 12-5 at Pump Project until July 8th.