The elements in Lauren McKeon’s first solo show at Oakland’s Interface Gallery, dos and donts, but mostly donts, sit throughout the small space like props in a Nikolai Gogol play. I say a Gogol play mostly because of the mysterious bronze nose resting in one corner of the gallery, a shiny protuberance titled Parts to rub.
The theatrical atmosphere is anchored by Untitled, an 8-by-9-foot prop doorway laying flat on most of Interface’s square footage. The matte-black framework would overwhelm the delicate arrangement of objects in the space were it not horizontal and utterly useless.
“Something face down is both tragic and funny,” McKeon says of the sculpture, made in memory of a friend who fell to his death.
Untitled calls Buster Keaton to mind, but it also conjures thoughts of unmarked, unreachable exits. Assembled on-site, too large to travel through the gallery’s own door, the prop doorway wouldn’t be functional even if it could stand upright. It has no threshold; it’s designed for tripping.
Visitors to dos and donts must circumnavigate the doorway on the floor. Physical progress through the exhibition is made more difficult by the artist’s active resistance to the “modern myth of human progress” in general.