Bad Trippin’ at Lumpen

March 22 marked the end of the “Radar Eyes” exhibition hosted by Seripop and Reuben Kincaid, two Canadian printing hotshots, in the Lumpen art collective’s Co-Prosperity Sphere. This Canadian print duo sought to harbor a good portion of experimental printmakers’ works, which “depict distortions of perception” and “altered states of awareness.” On the whole, the concept seems pretty promising. After all, who wouldn’t want to experience drugs without having to actually pay for them? In relation to a select few of the prints, the artists’ work depicts what could be some of the best acid trips of all time. Cascades of bright colors highlighting arrangements of fantastical people and places emerge from the silk screens once used to promote shows by artists like Ben Kweller or MGMT, whereas others simply wash the brain over with color, generating a source of aesthetic elation. At other times, things just get bizarre.

Of course, the Lumpen curators never resist the chance to challenge their viewers. A sizeable proportion of the works appeared to be the brainchildren of a slew of sexually angsty artists gearing their $50-$80 prints towards the type of people who swear by tie-dye, or who are too high to swear by anything but the drool that runs down their chin. This could quite possibly explain the low turnout for this supposed “party” on a Saturday night. A handful of Lumpen regulars stood around the gallery chatting and sipping their Grolsch beers while others hovered around the magazine rack and threw eyes at people rapidly flipping through the pages of the latest issue and not reading any of the pieces. The main gallery space was very much like a bizarro-episode of “Cheers.” Apparently, everyone there wanted to go someplace where everyone else would know their names, and they were eager to saunter self-importantly across the main floor in an effort to make sure the room was well aware of their presence.

The bad Lumpen trip continues upon entering an adjacent room, where the art just gets weirder and weirder while the sturdy Ikea table in the corner looks more and more comfortable. After settling for this only solace within the gallery-wide radius, one sits and tries to sympathize with the sexual frustration that composed two consecutive prints featuring venereal motifs, but the art high starts wearing off and hunger pangs start kicking in. But while picking up a burrito from a small taquería on Halsted may sound like the perfect end to a less-than-perfect, art-induced high, the newfound, food-induced sense of satisfaction nearly disappeared after returning to the gallery an hour later in order to see if the party had picked up since leaving. To no great surprise, everything was the same since it had been left. However, from the outside of the event, one could feel the beady glares of the attendees seemingly saying, “Why don’t you try this? Everybody’s doin’ it.” Take it from experience and remember that when your Saturday night is at stake in the greater Bridgeport area, it is always better to just say “no” to a Lumpen-induced trip.