Locust Projects presents Open Up, an interactive installation by Miami-based collaborative Nice ‘n Easy (Allison Matherly and Jeffrey Noble). In their signature subtropical vernacular, the artists construct an environment that treats posture as a proxy for intimacy: They invite their visitors to sit back or lean forward into potential interactions with others in the space. Open Up stages a microcosm of human relationships—however enduring or fleeting—and the warmth, frigidity, desire and hesitation that surfaces in these encounters.
Nice n’ Easy manufacture an environment that is equal parts store display and nostalgic dreamscape, looking to the common iconographies that define ideas of intimacy, comfort and discomfort. With variabilities of temperature and metaphors of emotional intensity—in examples of heated arguments or icy stares—the artists approach light as a motif in defining the environment’s fluctuating temperaments: The warm smolder of red fluorescents, and a cool, ambient blue glow radiate throughout the room and serve as barometers for the visitors’ moods. Two benches with angled seat backs, positioned on the diffuse edge between the two light sources, beckon visitors to sit and lean back or forwards. In the former configuration, swallowed in blue light, the viewer faces a video of the artists entering the ocean and walking into the water until they are no longer visible; while the latter, awash in red, positions its sitter in direct confrontation with another in the room.
Open Up propositions the body as a tool of social interaction, and its posture as a receptive gesture for that intimacy. To this end, the ‘opening up’—of both body and self—is treated along two paradoxical conditions that correspond with intersecting binaries of comfort and discomfort: The opening up of the body, as it leans back in reception of the videos, welcomes the experience of the space in comfort but to the exclusion of acknowledging others in the room; while hunching over in discomfort, as its counterpart, serves as an example of opening up in potential connection with another person. Nice ‘n Easy’s choreography of posture plays at the boundaries between desiring and rejecting intimacy; between comfortable and uncomfortable choices; and the uncertainty of interaction between individuals sharing the same space.
The video portions of this installation were produced during the artists’ 2017 residency at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas Biscayne Nature Center in Key Biscayne, FL.
ABOUT THE ARTISTS
Nice ‘n Easy, founded in 2015, is a collaborative endeavor between Miami-based artists Allison Matherly and Jeffrey Noble. Together, they have completed murals and installation projects for the Bass Museum of Art, Miami Beach, and the Downtown Hollywood Mural Project, Hollywood, FL. Their work has been exhibited at the Biscayne Nature Center, Bakehouse Art Complex, and &Gallery in Miami, as well as the Common Field Convening hosted in Miami during the fall of 2016.
Allison Matherly earned her BFA from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, in conjunction with Tufts University, Medford, MA. She currently lives and works in Miami Beach, FL. Her work has been exhibited at ArtCenter/South Florida, Miami Beach, FL; Gang Greenough Gallery, Jamaica Plain, MA; and Boston galleries and museums including Grossman Gallery, Howard Art Project and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.
Jeffrey Noble (b. 1987, Melbourne Beach, FL) earned his BFA from the New World School of the Arts, Miami, FL. He currently lives and works in Miami, FL. His work has been exhibited throughout Miami at venues including Primary Projects, Swampspace and HistoryMiami Museum, among others. In 2014, Noble had his first solo exhibition Welcome to MarZ at Butter Gallery, Miami.