Home Sweet Version

Lumpen’s eighth annual Version festival kicked off with a welcoming on Thursday night, with a one-night installation and show by Lumpen and Philadelphia-based artist collective Space 1026 at the Country Club gallery in West Town. It marked the launch of Version ‘08 with a union of the two art collectives that will continue at least throughout the arts festival.

Space 1026 is notorious in Philadelphia for producing what they like to call “a creative community–not an institution.” The nebulous label “creative community” includes both a gallery/workshop space and an event series. Space 1026 shows tend to be interesting single events, bringing a certain joy to the viewing of art that doesn’t frequently come through in gallery settings. Sound a little familiar? While Lumpen and Space 1026 share some traits, each brings its own special brand of “collective” to their respective cities.

The marquee of the gallery was covered with whimsical letters spelling out only two words: “Home 1026.” The cardboard flowers propped up in the gallery windows expressed a similar idea–this wasn’t a show so much as a domestic guerilla operation. Crayons spilled out of boxes at the door next to a sign that read “MARK the map,” and a screen-printing workshop was set up in the back of the room. The show wants its audience involved, but as in most shows, the audience seemed to be loitering in the space and sometimes taking cigarette breaks.

The show itself reverted to patchwork–literally and figuratively. Spread against one wall was a two-dimensional image of a classic American house constructed entirely out of small squares of bright pieces of paper in colors that resembled a condensed kindergarten classroom, printed in different geometric designs, with words, or with faces.

The same panels erupted around a large map of America, traced on the wall and surrounded by yarn, with slightly distorted versions of the fifty states drawn onto it–though the artists only appeared to get the number into the mid-thirties instead of the traditional fifty. One crushed-looking mass separated Pennsylvania, labeled “OUR HOME”, from Illinois, labeled “YOUR HOME.” Every other implied state on the map was labeled with “THEIR HOME” in large block letters. On the third wall of the gallery a series of prints, paintings, and drawings by the 1026 artists were shown. At the end of the night, however, this version of home moved away, back to Philadelphia, and Chicago was left with a collective of its very own.