Above: Watching the “Melting Bodies” video at the Belltown Collective. Below, the artists.
Steph Kese and her friend Erin Pollock (Kese y Pollock, get it?) are artists like Seattle has never seen before. Their latest project, KeseyPollock, is the first to occupy the city’s newest art space, the former Egbert Furniture store on First Avenue, renamed the Belltown Collective.
The story of the space is a classic one: Evolution Projects, the Fremont-based development firm that built The Whale Wins and Joule (after a successful run as snowboard retailer EVO) began incorporating original art in its projects. One of their properties was the former Egbert’s, which they decided to turn into a gallery.
Meantime, Kese and Pollock, who met in college (Whitman) and reconnected in Alaska after spending time studying art (Kese in Buenos Aires for film, Pollock in Florence for painting). They put on a joint wax-sculpture exhibit, then a public commission in Anchorage, now this complex and original show in Seattle titled “Melting Bodies.” The idea: find a bunch of people who look somehow interesting and coat them in plaster. Wait until it hardens, remove the people, and fill the hollow plaster molds with a variety of materials that will liquify at different temperatures (butter, Crisco, Vaseline, wax). Then melt the “bodies” in an industrial furnace, photographing and videotaping the results.
To fund their project, which they figured would cost $30,000, the artists turned to Kickstarter.com.Within a short time, 340 donors had contributed $45,000, something of a record for an art installation.
Played forward, the videos show liquefaction; played backwards, they’re even more intriguing: the figures coalesce around pools of geen muck, blue slime and yellow sludge until they emerge, almost lifelike, from the primordial ooze. This may not be how life actually began, but it’s art that makes you think it could have started like that.
Belltown, Capitol Hill and Pioneer Square are full of galleries displaying the work of talented artists, but KeseyPollock’s work is so stunningly original it’s in a dimension of its own.
KeseyPollock’s “Melting Bodies” through July 14th at the Belltown Collective, 2231 First Avenue, Seattle. Mon-Fri, 4-8, Sat-Sun 2-8.