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Immersing its audience in a harrowing, almost post-apocalyptic environment, APPROACH/AVOIDANCE explored denial as a dangerous social symptom. The gallery was wall-papered with thousands of newspaper clippings about AIDS, nuclear dangers and environmental hazards. The floor was covered to several feet with ash and tangled vines, within which were embedded dozens of video monitors and hundreds of mundane yet precious artifacts representing the potential personal loss from such global catastrophes. Included were children's toys, computer disks, novels, coffee cups, eyeglasses. Static played on the video monitors, interrupted by occasional glimpses of people in conversation.

The construction of APPROACH/AVOIDANCE drew heavily on multiple layers of community participation. Because hundreds of spectators also contributed the objects buried in the ash, a significant portion of the audience felt a direct, personal sense of potential loss. During the six weeks of the installation, thousands entered the gallery and pinned artifacts to the walls, from notes to photographs to small treasured objects, as if in memorial for what was not yet lost. At random intervals, fragments of performance occurred within the installation structure. These unstructured pieces were then arranged for performance in the adjacent theatre, reconfiguring the content of the gallery work for the more focused viewing available in theatrical time.

Madison Art Center, Madison, WI

Isthmus Playhouse, Madison, WI

Gallery Guide

'Approach/Avoidance': Artist hopes to wake up a complacent society,WI State Journal
Approach/Avoidance' happens with precision, Wisconsin State Journal
Art with a new perspective, The Capital Times
Ashes to Ashes, Art to Art..., Isthmus
Ball of Confusion, Isthmus
Clark approaches danger of the mundane in work, The Daily Cardinal
Exhibit's value lost to rhetoric, The Capital Times
Laurie Beth Clark, New Art Examiner
Life After Death: Local artists respond to the AIDS nightmare, Isthmus
Madison artist takes a direct approach confronting issues, The Badger Herald
Madison installation artwork conveys an emotional message, The Milwaukee Journal
Performance art, area collections haunt Art Center, The Badger Herald

Prime Time Wisconsin, WHA-TV
Breakfast Special, WORT-FM

Arts Midwest
Dane County Cultural Affairs Commission
Madison Art Center
Madison Civic Center Commission
Madison Civic Center Foundation
Madison Committee for the Arts
Wisconsin Arts Board
University of Wisconsin Graduate School Research Committee

Video by Clark Thompson, 20 minutes
Video by Clark Thompson, 5 minutes
Gallery Guide
Slide Lecture



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