Hug the Mangry Killdren!

Or a bigger dick a more muscular vagina

Extratextual jokesy familiar and at times absurd Hugly Mangry Killdren is the work of Blair Brennan Andrea Williamson and Sarah VS. It’s a show of drawings about celebrity and word-games sarcasm and the pop-culture dialect poetry paper and the medium of drawing. Hugly Mangry Killdren draws on walls and on social knowns those funny “inside jokes” anyone who reads the cover of gossip rags while in line at the grocery store can share (“Make Poverty History — Eat George Clooney.”)

Funnier when you see it in real life and decidedly nonchalant the show moves slowly through pop-culture language and into less familiar territory. The viewer with a narrative mind will encounter a series of short stories told with calculated disinterest made no less exciting by an obvious smart-aleciness: “dog sit / dog shit.” True there is both the lyrically inspired and the borderline cheesy but it’s completely fresh and delightfully effective. Hugly Mangry Killdren is certainly worth a look… and a read.

When Truck Contemporary Art in Calgary found itself unexpectedly sans a November show they scheduled a last-minute collaborative mentorship between an established artist (Brennan) and some of the best and the brightest emerging post-art school cats. Brennan who has shown in Alberta Biennials and across Canada imposed “mentorship” on Williamson and VS in the casual way that the tastiest artists understand (let’s collaborate!); the show doesn’t suffer from a hierarchy or any degree of condescension. In fact between VS’s colourful geometric wall-paintings Williamson’s more delicate figural drawings and Brennan’s rougher slightly darker images there is an amalgamation of styles that leaves the viewer curious to know who did what. The flow is pretty darn seamless. For the artist-viewer Hugly Mangry Killdren is teasingly tantalizing leaving one ravenous for more (several artists attending the opening left saying that they needed to go home and make something — the highest compliment an exhibition can elicit).

However it would be too hasty to write off Hugly Mangry Killdren as merely another well-done Truck show. The exhibition touches on something political.

Near the front of the exhibition a drawing features a quote from Edward Albee: “Who we are and where are we going?” It’s followed by the longest quote featured in the show also by Albee. “Eternal life in great health no older than we are when we want it; easy money with enough self-deception to make us feel we’ve earned it are worthy people; a government that lets us do whatever we want serves our private interests and lets us feel we’re doing all we can for… how do they call it — the less fortunate?; a bigger dick a more muscular vagina.” It’s a borrowed accusation of complacency.

Nearby there are drawings of Paris Hilton an unnamed sports car and Cher pointing at a tattoo of herself on someone else’s body. In passing the artists explore celebrity apathy Canada youth colour shape routine; never lingering too long. Edited text appears repeatedly words blanked out or re-appropriated trace amounts of French.

It’s possible in this text-based world to read too much meaning into the word-puzzles presented in Hugly Mangry Killdren (take the title of the show for instance) and while it appears to follow some ambiguous narrative the true hook is an underlying feeling that each puzzle every word or image game can somehow be solved through clever detective work. Hell maybe we enjoy Hugly Mangry Killdren because it makes us feel clever. We the viewers solve the riddle and pat ourselves on the back allowing the implications (“bigger dick more muscular vagina”) to slide away without registering.

But even if the show is playing us in some abstract way (“Stories tell People” says one of the drawings) we are more than happy to comply. There is no finger wagging no holier-than-thou attitude just some neat drawings on white walls and three utilitarian paper bags in the front of the room decorated with many colours and holding some familiar things. Happily we look and read exploring the… how do they call it — underground art of our city.