Bill Jenkins and Chadwick Rantanen

Thibault & Sunder
1817 & 1819 3rd Ave.
September 26, 2015–November 22, 2015

Chadwick Rantanen, Untitled, 2015, lamps, packaging, handmade battery adapters, each 14 x 11 x 7".

Normally flatly lit, this gallery hangs in near darkness for Bill Jenkins and Chadwick Rantanen’s exhibition “Honeydew,” composed entirely of untitled works from this year. A sheet of black plastic, by Jenkins, funnels the gallery’s fluorescent lighting onto a tabletop sloped inward, drain-like, to a central slit; another, lined with mirrored Mylar, directs the skylight’s beams. Like a returns counter, the table is littered with toys, a lamp, a few small plastic globes broken into hemispheres, and some motion-activated polyethylene birds that chirp when triggered. Their open battery compartments reveal what resembles clusters of plastic moths. These casings, fabricated by Rantanen based on an existing product, fit AAA batteries into AA slots with twin protruding paddles. One degree beyond readymade, they tip nature into pathetic repose: Unable to perch on their bird-foot-yellow paddles, the birds loll on their sides.

In the next room, Rantanen’s pair of wildlife cameras rests on their boxes; above, halfway up the wall, climb Jenkins’s three sets of inverted stairs, lit from within by fluorescent and daylight that’s diffused by swaths of plastic, tape, and wood. This low-budget inner glow compliments the cold illumination of a row of Rantanen’s battery-powered, wall-mounted lamps across the room, peeking out of their cartons and aimed back at the wall. Here, bought objects—fresh from the box—are somehow already maligned, their value as redirected as their energy.

— Travis Diehl