Private spaces, out in the open

Outside the Box 2

In Mark Joseph Oliver's sculpture "Telecommunication," an old television has crash-landed on a beige living-room couch. The fibers of the moth-eaten furniture are scorched black like charcoal around the impact site, and protruding from the TV are dozens of white acrylic rods grouped so they resemble Superman's Fortress of Solitude. Familiar movie scenes play on the television — Gene Wilder singing "Pure Imagination" from "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory," John Wayne's conversation with Natalie Wood from the classic western "The Searchers" — which cast a glow of purplish green against the acrylic rods.

Oliver says many of his works are based on such indoor domestic scenes, and is fascinated how televisions have "infiltrated" family spaces over the past 50 years. "I think of it as a science-fiction interpretation of how TV has entered our private spaces," says the 26-year-old Delray Beach resident, a professor of sculpture at Florida Atlantic University. "It's ethereal, spacelike, dropped from above like a huge meteor, and these nostalgic movies are huge parts of my childhood. But I also like where this will be displayed. It looks like grandma's basement in the middle of someone's back yard."

The "back yard" is the grassy lakefront setting of Whitespace — the Mordes Collection in West Palm Beach, site of the returning open-air biennial exhibit "Outside the Box 2." The group art show, curated by Fort Lauderdale's Lisa Rockford, is on view Friday and Saturday and will contain 37 mostly site-specific pieces from Florida artists that interact with the nature and grassy environs surrounding Whitespace, including Lake Mangonia out back.

"Every piece is located outside, which I thought was pretty exciting, because I like the alternative setting," says Rockford, tapped to curate the exhibit by Whitespace owner Elayne Mordes, who developed the outdoor-only concept in 2012. "It's the kind of spot a ritzy restaurant would want to sit on."


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Viewable for two nights only, the installations are nearly double the 22 pieces on display during the first biennial in 2012, Rockford says. Scattered about the property's hedgerows, trees and bushes will be Matthew Falvey's 20-foot-long tunnel of closed-circuit televisions and cameras, a claustrophobic environment designed to confront ideas about illegal surveillance and NSA monitoring tactics. For Pilar Batlle's piece "Plastic (Nothing But)," Whitespace's front gates and lawn chairs have been "yarn-bombed" with crocheted strips of plastic garbage bags. And In Craig Smith's interactive "Kicking Comets," visitors will be invited to help the artist punt footballs from the shoreline, while a group of assistants on a motorboat will speed around the lake to catch them with fishing nets. ("It's a pretty futile exercise," Rockford says with a laugh.)

Visitors may also notice Andrew Nigon's "Oh, Oh God!," a 6-foot-tall elephant the Miami artist crafted from polyurethane foam, discarded clothing and old doll parts. The Miami artist, 33, says the elephant in the front yard represents both a religious icon and a 600-pound burden that Nigon has deconstructed and rebuilt many times since 2010.

"I've been wrestling for years with my Catholic faith, so I wanted to build a better God, an all-knowing but vulnerable God for this new twisted faith that I created for myself," Nigon says. "The elephant looks like it's falling apart. I kind of have a love-hate relationship with it."

Outside the Box 2

When: 7:30-10:30 p.m. Friday, April 4, and Saturday, April 5

Where: Whitespace — the Mordes Collection, 2805 N. Australian Ave., West Palm Beach

Cost: $10, with free parking

Contact: 561-842-4131 or WhitespaceCollection.com