In the installation Love in the Wild, by Vicki Lynn Wilson, Blackfish Gallery is transformed into a place where the seemingly opposing spheres of wilderness and domesticity become unlikely bedfellows. This odd coupling, where stalking wolves and a polar bear share floor space with plastic lawn furniture, is what Wilson calls the "tundracondo," the icy natural habitat for the "humafauna." Not familiar with the humafauna? Don't worry; Wilson provides a definition: "a creature that has evolved technologically, but has reverted to an animal-like state in regard to the moral issues of humanity." In other words, Wilson's invented species exposes the myth of progress as dehumanizing and regressive. Modern conveniences may make life easier, but technology evolves faster than humanity's ability to adapt to it. And for Wilson, the human response is to revert to primal behavior, staking out an existence that is less than human, but far from mechanical.
To convey the humafauna's emotional frigidity, the tundracondo is glacial and barren. All of Wilson's Styrofoam animal sculptures rigidly adhere to a peppermint candy palate of white and red, glittering with beaded, sugary surfaces. The sculptures' exteriors are craggy, transformed by accumulated ice. These crusty layers appear on the domestic accoutrements, as well. For example, a clothesline sags from the added weight of frosty coatings clinging to socks and a shirt.
But as heavy as Wilson's assessment of the modern world might seem, the installation remains lighthearted, if not downright silly, with its hey-look-at-me approach to artifice. Snowflakes, plastic bugs, and a chandelier made of pipe cleaners hang from the ceiling, twirling on strings that are all too visible. The polar bear, standing with its arms outstretched and sparkly red maw gaping, has a refrigerator door for a stomach.
For such a grim appraisal of humanity, Love in the Wild is relentlessly playful. In spite of Wilson's feral imagination, her execution appears intentionally amateurish and clumsy. But somehow that seems a perfect way to handle her subject. After all, to err is human.