S. DIANE DURANT + DEVYN GAUDET
S. Diane Durant and Devyn Gaudet have just polished off a show at 500x this Sunday, featuring photos of traveling boots and the 50 boots themselves displayed in a kind of Robert Smithson spiral jetty fashion. When I dropped by, I was incredibly fortunate to see Diane Durant in the upstair project space with a child and a young lady. I listened to her explain the piece, but for me the titles were incredibly helpful. Titles like “50 BOOTS MAKE IT TO THE OTHERSIDE Imperial, TX” and “50 BOOTS GET QUESTIONS Sierra Blanca, TX” reflect what is happening in the images, but implies a border state narrative. A great back story accompanied each image and it was fun to see the little girl walk between the boots to the center of the jetty.
Road trips have been essential narrative for most cultures. Stories of traveling adventures date as far back the Greek poet Homer’s writing of the Iliad and the Odyssey and surely further back in oral traditions. Durant and Gaudet’s adventure takes inspiration from Eleanor Antin’s 100 Boots photography piece made in the early 1970’s. The concept was to take boots and place them in different locations, then document the events through photography. Eleanor Antin took years to photograph these boots which resembled military boots. The Vietnam War ended several years after Antin’s project started, so the boot images had a real potent message to convey about the militarization of the culture. In 2015, the Afghanistan War is supposed to be winding down, so these images of boots reflect our similar experiences with war. Durant and Gaudet’s trip to the border of Texas and Mexico also touch on relevant anxiety. Boots, or lack of boots are associated with law-enforcement in some of the images. But just one read for these images is too simplified. I really see both projects as showing different jobs and recreations for boot wearers.
What makes this project interesting to me is that Durant and Gaudet are fulfilling my interpretation of Sol Lewitt’s dream that conceptual artists play the same pieces over and over again like a musician plays a piece by Beethoven. Of course, each good musician brings something different to the piece, but essentially the music is close to the original intent. Durant and Gaudet are playing the Eleanor Antin piece masterfully, but as their title implied, they only got halfway done. Great art idea pieces must be further explored by other artists to flush out for new meanings.
I met Diane Durant a long time ago, when I was leaving and she was beginning her work with the UT Dallas journal Sojourn, which became Reunion. Both artists went through the UT Dallas program which was filled with learning about theory, so I was not surprised to see such a strong conceptual show rooted in powerful ideas. Though the show walked off February 1st, you will have another opportunity to see Diane Durant’s work at 500x this March. Devyn Gaudet’s photography can be found on her website.
ModernDallas.net for more images