If One Won’t Another One Will
August 8-31, 2016
Unsmoke Systems
Braddock, PA

No More Beautiful Boys

Stephen Grebinski and I have had many conversations about art.  Since I moved to Pittsburgh last year, he became one of my first city friends, and also one of the first to be a practicing artist, and really one of the few people who kept the conversation going.  He’s a professor after all, and I’ve also discovered that he’s an archeologist and archivist as well. If One Won’t then Another Will is a considerable display of this kind of work, but also it’s one where what’s uncovered isn’t simply documented, it’s also given reverence, resonance, and a place to be.
He collects images, and is a keen student of their history and the manifold implications that lies within those narratives.  He loves to mull through the jetsam of his neighborhood, grabbing pleasing scraps and bits of information both physical and ephemeral from the decomposing lots around his home.  He also scours his own history to create compositions that bring back things which have vanished back to contemporaneity. The queer body is multifaceted, and so is architecture.  What happens when these forms intersect and are allowed to move in-between one another.  When we compare the male nude, an image already powerful with meaning from antiquity to present day we have enough information, but what if it’s not the David?  What if it’s just some somebody living out a fantasy for spare change (or perhaps nothing but the thrill) in the 60s-70s just before AIDS, before coming out, before the sure but inevitable acceptance of their love.  What of those bodies. And what of the beautiful homes of the rich and powerful, now barren and anesthetized with the exceptional celebrity home. While these things are not powerless on their own, through the rhizomes and visual channeling they communicate.  A dream like world where the wish can be fulfilled, where there is real promise of power and agency. Wherein the image and their beauty will not fade.

But also what of the detritus?  What of the actual trash left behind when wealth decides to move elsewhere.  The wreckage of abandoned homes and former bathhouses are also places where there was once the captivating magic of home life, the syncopation of bodies.  The home is a liminal space where many things can be made, and from this ruin Grebinski constructs tender collages, elegiac to desires once profound, now lost on others as merely nostalgia for simpler, times.

And yet we still seek the next thing; the next mode which is fashionable, outstanding, ideal in our perceptions of bodies and and the places where they lay, and much like the relics of our past we don’t have a complete access to them.  No matter how meditative or scientific the research, there is still the unknown. We can feel the past resonate, but we can’t possibly begin to know it all. There is only so much we can divine when so much of the information is inaccessible.  

If One Won’t Then Another Will transcends all of the fixtures of it’s subject matter to seek to find an archae to the  desire, abandonment, and change that permeates all of these images, but it does not reveal it.  Through all this juxtaposition, video performances, and hundreds of artifacts both photographic and found, we catch this moment of the unknowable, of something sought out but beyond our reach.  We can observe and hypothesize, but we can’t ever know. However, once we’re there, the process starts all over again, and in this consideration we are able to see our own desires reflected against the frame.  It’s honestly an amazing place to find yourself.

-Val Krizanek