Of Mice and Men
At the corner of Beverly Blvd. and Crescent Heights lies a quaint white building labeled "Michael Kohn Gallery." When one enters, they are greeted by similar white walls of the interior and grayscale carpets to suggest simple works and an ordinary viewing experience, but the current exhibit at the Michael Kohn Gallery is anything but.
In a display of artistic freedom as well as the usual collaboration styles of the musical artist and producer known as Danger Mouse, the Michael Kohn Gallery houses "Dark Night of the Soul," the first ever project-installation between director David Lynch and Danger Mouse.
Dark Night of the Soul is Danger Mouse's first major work since producing the Beck album Modern Guilt in 2008. A fan of director David Lynch's work, Danger Mouse approached Lynch with the idea of a collaboration, Danger Mouse creating music and Lynch taking photographs, inspiring each other and creating works that drew off of one another's pieces.
The purpose of the sparse interior dressing appears to focus the viewer's attention to the work. In fact, one learns from viewing that the ideas behind the installations are so surreal and beyond the scope of traditional art installations that the white walls offer relief to the viewer's mind.
From the moment one reads David Lynch's profile at the Kohn Gallery website, one is aware of the unpredictability of the possibilities of his works:
"David Lynch: Born Missoula, Montana. Eagle Scout."
Brief and disclosing nothing, expecting the unexpected is a running idea while viewing Dark Night of the Soul. Whether photos of a man swimming in darkness, illuminated by Christmas bulbs, or a series of photographs depicting a man lifting weights in nothing but thick-rimmed glasses, Hanes tighty-whities, and a gold cape, Lynch's pieces bring the reader to question aspects of reality, the impacts of society, and, at the most basic level, human nature.
Completing the two part installation is the music of Danger Mouse, which is carried throughout the exhibit over loudspeakers. Combined with each grouping of photos, the track-by-track pairing helps to show how Lynch's works and Danger Mouse's music inspired one another, and how the two work to complete each other's incomplete parts to their stories.
The Dark Night of the Soul exhibit is open now and runs through July 11, 2009. While Lynch's works can be purchased separately in a 100-plus page photobook, the album was not commercially released due to record disputes with production company EMI. For now, Danger Mouse's album is available to download online for free, with plans in the future to sell CD booklets with blank CD-Rs inside with the intent, according to Danger Mouse, "to do as you will.