BerlinScott Myles: Spiral Bound
In July 2015 the artist undertook a speculative trip to one of eight extraordinary structures designed by James Wines of SITE architects for the Best Products Company in the 1970s and early 1980s. Only the 1980 ‘Forest Showroom,’ on the outskirts of Richmond, Virginia, still stands in anything like its original form. As with several of the other Best showrooms, Wines here constructed a building that seems already ruined – a line of trees intrudes between the façade and the building itself, as if overrun by the depredations of time and nature. In the ownership of a Presbyterian Church since 1999, today the Forest Showroom serves not only as a place of worship but also as a place of refuge for asylum seekers, and for the last ten years as a food bank. As Myles discovered, where once Best’s consumer goods were displayed for sale, the ‘showroom’ is now arrayed with tinned foodstuffs and other basic items awaiting free collection, organised according to simple categories on immaculate steel shelving units. What Myles found when he reached his goal, then, was a commercial retail showroom built as a ‘ruin-in-reverse,’ itself made obsolete by commercial collapse, which resurfaces as a site of belief, support, display and exchange.
The owners of Best Products Sydney and Frances Lewis were also avid art collectors, and often acquired works from artists in exchange for consumer goods from their Best catalogue. Spiral Bound takes this repurposed building, the practice of exchanging goods for art, and the offering of basic goods as charity, as a point of departure to extend the artists longstanding interest in forms of the built environment and economies of gift exchange.
In a new series of works which depict basic goods on the West End Church’s food bank shelves, Myles overlays each canvas (each of which are the exact dimensions of Myles’s studio door in Glasgow) with screen-printed ‘true-grain’ film. The true-grain bears partial images of photographs from his trip to the former Forest Showroom, as well as to Wines’s New York home, to the archives of Best, and to a wedding chapel inside a diner that Wines recently designed in Las Vegas. The double visions that result from the overlaying of printed film on printed canvas (or in an accompanying artist’s book, the overlaying of acetate on paper) juxtapose disparate yet connected times and places, but also differing yet coexistent systems of value and modes of existence for objects. Myles effects above all a meditation on the thresholds between gift and sale, ruin and reuse, sacred and profane illuminations, interiority and exteriority, that are continually explored and traversed in his work.
Published on the occasion of the exhibition, a new essay by art historian Dominic Paterson has been commissioned and is featured in an artists book, Spiral Bound made in collaboration between Scott Myles and London-based graphic design agency, Kellenberger-White.
Courtesy Meyer Riegger