& davis, the mechanics of a lie
thirty4 Istanbul, Turkey fall
Smith and Tommy Lee Jones there was Johnny Cash. And before Johnny Cash
came a tall, muscular man in a black suit who invited a UFO-sighter
named Harold Dahl to a local diner for eggs and bacon. Although Dahl
hadn't told anyone about the UFO, the stranger already knew the details
and suggested that Harold's family would be in danger if anyone else
learned of the incident. This was the first of the reported "Men In
Black," a product of American folk culture that flourished throughout
the Cold War.
Davis, known together as the artist team Davis & Davis, have been
producing their own little army of animatronic Men In Black for a
series of installations that crosses conspiracy theory with pop
culture. 1 Year
Later is a full-scale recreation of a Robert Frank
photograph: three men sit in a covered '57 Cadillac whispering along to
Johnny Cash singing Cry, Cry, Cry on the car radio. EFAC
is a smaller
installation made of a cafe table, two chairs, an empty coffee cup, a
tabletop jukebox, and a printout of UFO disinformation; through the
window, one sees the desert adjacent to Area 51 and the silhouettes of
two Men In Black whispering threats to each other.
EFAC gives us
something that 1 Year Later does not: a view behind the screen: peeking
around the side of the wall, we can see the electronics, mechanics and
light that animate the scene. It's not that EFAC exposes the truth.
Rather, it reveals how persuasive and fun a contrivance can be.