Detritus Blossoms in an Abandoned Nightclub / Hyperallergic

Ben Coleman and Henry Detweiler, installation shot of “No Vacancy” (2013) (all photos by David Batterman unless otherwise noted)

Ben Coleman and Henry Detweiler, installation shot of “No Vacancy” (2013) (all photos by David Batterman unless otherwise noted)

CHICAGO — The walls were painted pink-and-yellow zigzags, and a cast of characters outfitted in white tuxes and animal heads ignited an abandoned nightclub, turning the space into a carnivalesque, Dada-influenced funhouse without mirrors. This is just one moment from Ben Coleman and Henry Detweiler’s project No Vacancy, a Necessary Void, which ran July 20 – August 8 at 91 Broad Street SW, Atlanta.

This site-specific installation occurred as a result of the two artists, who previously did not know each other, spending three weeks together creating a wonderland from what was previously raw detritus. Without access to phones or internet, Detweiler and Coleman made supply and food requests via text message only to Dashboard Co-op, the Atlanta-based organization that works with artists to ignite raw spaces with contemporary art.

Invested in creating an experimental environment that blurred the lines of truth and fiction, fantasy and reality, and the two artists’ solo practices, Detweiler and Coleman’s installation became an explosion of aesthetic influences ranging from modernism and Dada to performance, pataphysics, Gutai and sci-fi special effects. Both of the artists brought with them to the space Alfred Jarry books, something that they only discovered when the texts were laid out on a table. In any strong creative convergence, two minds most become one — if only for a short period of time. The resulting work existed as a universe entirely of its own.

Alicia Eler: Tell me about the origins of this site-specific work. Are you both based in Atlanta? Did you stake out the site or was it assigned to you through Dashboard Co-op?

Ben Coleman: Dashboard Co-op contacted Henry and I to propose the project.  At the point of original contact, a site had not been arranged.  Additionally, at that point, Henry and I had never met, although we are both based in Atlanta (I am from London, but have been living in the US and practicing in Atlanta for a number of years now). The site was kept unknown to us until we were taken there on the first of the 21 days we were to inhabit the space. We were even driven there wearing blackout glasses so that we didn’t know where we were.

Read the full interview on Hyperallergic: