[caption id="attachment_698" align="alignright" width="229" caption="Sean Connaughty relaxing in his nest. photo by Eric Melzer"][/caption]
Imagine a village of humans that evolved directly from birds or small rodents. In this reality, instead of having a need to build large, permanent structures, people have kept a nesting instinct. These alternate human beings have no use for blue prints or analytical planning, but instead make structures built from intuition that travels directly from spine to hand.
This might come close to the type of world multi-media artist Sean Connaughty suggests in his new installation entitled “O” at XYandZ Gallery in South Minneapolis.
I met up with Connaughty at the opening of“O” last Saturday evening. The Gallery was filled with the large “pod” shelters made of woven branches. These structures bring to mind thoughts of human nests or cocoons or maybe something more like giant vegetal placentas. Some are soft with a layer of fluffy, woolly bedding. Throughout the gallery, these pods are suspended at various levels with women lounging inside of them. Amongst this camp, a small low pod, packed with snow, broadcasts weather reports from inside. It slowly melts leaving puddles all over the floor. I can't decide if the scene reminds me more of a tribe of missing links or the compound of a fringe cult. But maybe that's just splitting hairs.
[caption id="attachment_682" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Mouth Pod"][/caption]
Sean Connaughty is open and kind but very quiet. Connaughty says that he has been making these pods for about a year now. “I started with some green branches, and what I wanted to do is see if I could just use the physics of the material to hold it together”, Connaughty told me. “It's all about the bending and the tension of the branches “. His first pods were small, only a foot or so across but the pieces in this show are large enough to make you wonder how they got through the Gallery doors.
[caption id="attachment_684" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Resting in Shelter. photo by Eric Melzer"][/caption]
Connaughty's focus is on responding to and transforming objects in his immediate surroundings. He works in a purely instinctive and tactile way, immersing himself in the experience. When asked where the branches came from Connaughty told me, “I follow the city tree trimming trucks around and use the branches. I've made friends with a guy on the crew”. Seeing these pods, it's not hard to imagine Connaughty crouching over a pile like a busy, twitchy squirrel, piecing its nest together, hardwired to make his own home. “Sometimes I sleep in them”, he told me. (Predating the Lady Gaga pod episode).
“O” is thought provoking, sincere and one of the few art events that is just plain magical. Sean Connaughty pulls off what few artists are able to do; he creates an interesting and convincing otherworld.
The snow pod may have melted and the models from the opening have probably climbed out of the pods and gotten on with their lives, but the magic is still there. Go see the show before it closes!
O by Sean Connaughty
dates: feb 19- mar 19
gallery hours: thur-sun 12-6
3258 minnehaha ave s mpls mn 55406
Here is a video Sean Connaughty made of the pods in action: