A Glimpse of What Lurks Beneath the Surface
Jerry Cullum, Catherine Fox and Cinque Hicks, coauthors, Noplaceness: Art in a Post-Urban Landscape in Atlanta Art Now, a biennial critical series, published by Possible Futures, Inc., 2011.
In this first volume of the series , Cinque Hicks, founding creative director of the series, and fellow art critics Jerry Cullum and Catherine Fox offer a gritty, true-to-life depiction of the ways of life experienced by the artists and residents of Atlanta.
"Noplaceness" refers to art that addresses shifting concepts of space and place, allowing the viewer to make connections between art being produced by Atlanta and the contemporary art society at large.
In his "The In-Between: Identity and Global Anxiety" essay, Cinque Hicks discusses imagery by artists such as William Boling whose S.P.A.L. (Southern Places of Arts and Letters) series (2003– present) surveys the childhood homes and home towns of Flannery O' Connor of Milledgeville, Georgia and Jasper John of Allendale, South Carolina. Composed of an assortment of what Hicks describes as "anti-places, an abject assemblage of broken windows and lower-middle-class thrift stores," the works do not enshrine the origins of these celebrated figures. "Rather than attempt rhetorically to match the artists' grand reputations," observes Hicks, "the images slouch the other way. They make no reference to the artist they produce. Instead, history becomes indistinguishable from amnesia, the place unable to remember the past nor anticipate the future."
Hicks also contributed "Battle Grounds: Spatial Contest and the Fictions of Place," to the volume. Here he introduces artists whose works consider their relationship to "a new kind of space," a space that flows, and is no longer dependent on where you are, but who you are connected to.
Topics covered by Fox and Cullum include Atlanta artists' response to a sense of dislocation now common in the globalized world. Artists take advantage of public space to add depth to the urban experience, and Atlanta's visual artists have contemplated the end of place altogether.
Toya Northington is a writer on visual culture who lives in Atlanta.