Critics’ Picks

View of “Why we do this,” 2012.


Andy DuCett

The Soap Factory
514 2nd Street SE
September 8–November 11

Though Andy DuCett considers “Why we do this” to be an expansion of his established drawing practice, the actual effect of the immersive installation here is more akin to that of a film than a drawing. Visitors walking through the sprawling exhibition—which takes up the entirety of the Soap Factory’s twelve thousand square feet—might recall the scenes in screenwriter Charlie Kaufman’s Being John Malkovich and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind where characters move through memories as though they were physical space, with childhood torments incongruously adjacent to adult workplaces and erotic pleasures.

DuCett has created dozens of distinct spaces and assembled them in an eccentric progression that draws the viewer through the gallery with the promise of a surprise around every corner. His themes are memory and life history—specifically, the memories and history of the thirtysomething Minnesotan man he is. The spaces evoke episodes in a life: some literal, some fantastic. Included are a thrift store and a record shop (all items actually for sale). Nearby DuCett has constructed a cabin bunk, with a windowed door that looks onto a video projection of woods through which Sasquatch is seen to occasionally amble. Across the gallery there’s an Astroturf field with a cloud-scattered blue sheet rolling slowly past overhead, and immediately above that, there’s the media-cluttered den of a conspiracy theorist. Near the gallery door a canoe floats ready to be rowed, in the back corner of the space a bar holds vintage beer cans, and in yet another nook of the gallery a giant Battleship set includes sufficient pieces to play a full game.

The installation feels cozy and accessible, both conceptually and literally, as almost anything difficult has been left out: There are many dreams but no nightmares; beds, but no stained sheets; games, but no losers or winners. In future work, one hopes DuCett will do more to provoke—but for now, he seems justifiably content to simply invite viewers to wander happily through his, and their own, memories.