Jonah Freeman | Justin Lowe | Alexandre Singh
Ballroom Marfa’s spring 2008 exhibition, Hello Meth Lab in the Sun, was a collaboration between three artists: Jonah Freeman, Justin Lowe, and Alexandre Singh. The exhibition was a rumination on the theme of alchemy, and the exhibition sought to uncover some of the sites of alchemical transformation in the modern world.
Hello Meth Lab in the Sun transformed Ballroom’s gallery spaces into a labyrinthine assemblage of rooms, hallways, closets, and observation platforms. Like the dioramas of the Museum of Natural History or the period rooms of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, the exhibition created theatrical depictions of three specific social/historical contexts: the utopian hippie commune, the clandestine meth lab, and the varied sites of modern industrial production. Each room and object was suggestive of a state of transformation or hybridization: vegetables into broth; match heads into meth; sugar cane into Mountain Dew.
Hello Meth Lab in the Sun took up alchemy’s method of homespun experimentalism, bonding unlikely ingredients and ushering in a secular mysticism. One room reads as an Upper East Side apartment converted to a lifestyle museum, with a collection of black and white society photographs documenting hermetic rituals with cacti and crystals. This is a world reminiscent of Norman Mailer’s 50th birthday party and the final scene in Polanski’s 1968 horror film, Rosemary’s Baby.
Another room reveals itself as a laboratory cluttered with crates of cold medicine, boxes of matches, containers of cat litter and glassware for the mass production of narcotics. Here not only are materials transformed, their intended uses are subverted along with consumerism’s tenets of freedom, happiness and choice. The lightly veiled intimacy between the lawful and the deviant is put on display.
Jonah Freeman was born in 1975 in Santa Fe, NM and lives and works in New York City. He has exhibited widely since the late 1990s throughout the United States and internationally with photographs, video projections, and installations that explore the psychology of architectural spaces.
Justin Lowe was born in 1976 in Dayton, OH and lives and works in New York City. He has been exhibiting since 2000, creating installation “environments” like gallery-lounges, cluttered house interiors and — for his 2006 solo show at Oliver Kamm/5BE Gallery, New York — an intricately stocked bodega and Mister Softee truck. Lowe is also known for his collages produced in collaboration with Jonah Freeman.
Alexandre Singh is a British artist, born in Bordeaux, France in 1980 and currently based in London and New York City. His installations are recognizable by their combined structures of building materials and consumer items, accompanied by circuitous narratives and elements of performance.
Generous support for Hello Meth Lab in the Sun has been provided by the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Peter Norton Family Foundation, the Cowles Charitable Trust, Foundation for Contemporary Arts, and Ballroom Marfa Members.
Special thanks to Alexander Mills, Project Manager, for the onsite installation of Hello Meth Lab in the Sun.
The Psychic Ills performance has been made possible through the continued support of Ballroom Marfa’s Front Row Music Program and Permian Distributing, Midland, TX.