David Scanavino

Moody Center for the Arts
6100 Main Street, MS-480, Rice University
June 3, 2017–August 26, 2017

David Scanavino, Repeater, 2017, vinyl composite tile and high-density fiberboard, 23 x 56 x 48'. Installation view.

Brooklyn-based artist David Scanavino’s site-specific installation Repeater, 2017, only the second exhibition to appear in the soaring atrium gallery of this new center, is made up of a massive tessellation of industrially produced vinyl composite tiles, the kind one typically finds covering the floors of school lunchrooms, fitness centers, and hospitals. The viewer is discouraged from such associations, however, by the work’s decorative arrangement of bold candy colors, approximating an aimless labyrinth or Tetris game with no symmetry or center. Abutting hues vibrate before the eyes like an immense Color Field painting spread beneath one’s feet (imagine a dance floor designed by Frank Stella or Ellsworth Kelly), and the tiles, arranged in alternating patterns, create the illusion of a swirling, roiling surface. Additionally, the whole composition is skewed in relation to the venue’s floor so that, in order to fit, two of the piece’s corners stretch high up the adjacent walls.

Doubling down on the Moody’s stated mission, Repeater is billed as “a platform for interactivity,” playing host to public gatherings around jazz ensembles, meditation, yoga, dance, poetry readings, capoeira, and even strength training. All of this is visible to the outside through vast windows that realize architect Michael Maltzan’s concept of the building as a lantern or beacon. As such, both art and architecture participate in supplanting the white-cube model with that of a glass box—one that is empty, waiting to be activated, and thus always inherently incomplete.

Natilee Harren