Reggie Townley and Sarah Gillman know what it feels like to be so in love they're afraid to blink, worried they might miss something. They also know what it's like to video chat with someone over a spotty feed.
While Gillman was serving a 9-month prison sentence, the couple communicated almost exclusively by low-quality video chat, which frequently froze. When artist Ryan Cheatham approached them about participating in an art project exposing the fissured, fractured nature of reality--Thirteen (Re)Representations, currently showing at Black Hunger Gallery--the couple brought along their experience of being forced apart.
"The project's about space and disconnection. ... What we were bringing in was that feeling of separation," said Townley.
(Re)Representations, which opened Dec. 13 and runs through Friday, Dec. 27, comprises 13 pieces, including a selection of paired photos of Townley and Gillman sporting blank expressions, two televisions facing each other playing the models holding one end of a conversation, a closed-circuit television with its camera trained on two ceiling lights, a poster that reads, "In Glimpses/We Find/Out Who/We Are."
Cheatham has a full set of tools for forcing the viewer into facing the tumultuous and sometimes broken continuity of our lives. Viewers were curious about what Townley and Gillman were saying on screen, while the paired photos of the couple show their differing reactions to similar emotions.
The written word plays the role of lodestone in the exhibition, particularly the poster/poem "In Glimpses," which points the way toward the existentialist center of the show.
"I knew I wanted to do something textual," Cheatham said.
This is Cheatham's first solo exhibition--and Black Hunger's last. The artist collective, opened at 2606 Breneman St. in 2011 by Eli Craven, Erin Cunningham, Maria Chavez, Eamonn Parke and Jon Sadler, has not been asked to renew its rental agreement, and the new renter has plans to convert the space into a real estate office when Black Hunger Gallery tenants move out on Wednesday, Jan. 1, 2014.
Visual artist Erika Sather-Smith, one of Black Hunger's current occupants, plans to create a new art space in Boise's Bench neighborhood, but laments the loss of Black Hunger.
"This is really sad because it's a fine space for an office, but it's a great space for a gallery," Sather-Smith said.