Full of “terrible ideas” never followed by “no,” Albuquerque artists Andrew Lyman and Adrian Toto throw us a dose of peril. Forswearing any impulse but passive inflection, their upcoming DANGERshow: Things of Death leaves you to fend for yourself amid grinding, shattering, deafening uncertainty. Drink it up. It’s installation art like a medieval battlefield. A little Syria for your soul. “You don’t have to come in,” Lyman reflects, “and frankly you probably shouldn’t.” But when it comes to matters of chaos, should has nothing to do with it.
It is no secret that in stability we thirst for chaos, and art breathes deepest in those spaces freed of formality, unhinged and spinning recklessly beyond the protective structures of a world sighing for safety. Lyman and Toto, both recently escaped from the austere civility of the Midwest, have found a perfect place for creative mayhem. Lyman’s gallery The Tan (1415 Fourth Street SW) has presented monthly shows since it opened two years ago, scrounging ever more deeply into the black box of artistic curiosity. Located in the heart of Barelas, the space itself skirts the borders of enforced order and remains, for the time being, a gritty little bastion of freedom.
DANGERshow is about the “physicality of violence,” says Toto. It is an exploration of the destructive potential of a million day-to-day nothings. Hyper-tuned vacuum cleaner motors thrash hardwood to chips and whip shards of glass like flying shrapnel locked inside a jewelry box. Hundred-pound iron rods swing tenuously from what you hope are sturdy rafters. Sparks might bore into your skin. Beware of witchcraft. Everything is built to break—a question of minutes, perhaps seconds. The science is in the explosion, and the rest is “bereft of consideration,” says Lyman, thus allowing in its reception a purity of emotion unhindered by that irksome attendance to caution. That responsibility is the attendee’s alone.
But relax. There’s nothing dark or sinister about these things of death. They’re not there to muck up your existential gutters or drag your innocence across a field of feces and razor blades. Far from bohemian darklings seeking attention in destructive tantrum, Lyman and Toto are the happy kind of mad; they burst first and foremost with the laughter of great creators before the deluge. So expect not pandemonium but hellacious hilarity. If something goes wrong, at least you’ll go down smiling.
Meanwhile, next door at the Small Engine Gallery (1413 Fourth Street SW), your inner darkness might feel more at home. The simultaneous show, I Wear Black Light on the Outside Because It’s How I Feel on the Inside, a 16-person group show curated by Lyman and Rachel Rankin, is a sight perhaps softer on your amygdalae, if not on your soul.
Both shows open at 7:30-ish p.m. and run to about midnight on Friday, July 5. Don’t bring small children. Protective gear is advised.