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Olga Koumoundouros.

OLGA KOUMOUNDOUROS by Elizabeth Pence Open Satellite, Bellevue WA August 29 * October 13, 2007

While working on an Open Satellite residency program serving the Seattle metropolitan area, Los Angeles artist Olga Koumoundouros, looking to get a coffee, found herself down a short dirt road in the middle of downtown Bellevue. Two derelict shacks, ranch-style homes claimed by overgrowth, stood off to one side, overshadowed by newly built high rises. Curated by Annie Han and Daniel Mihalyo from Lead Pencil Studio, with help from developer and civil engineer John Su, an architectural consultant named Leigh Gerard, and other assistants, A Roof Upended (2007) uses discarded material from local building sites and parts of the abandoned moss-covered, tar-shingled roofs to blow the lid on one particular corner of the American Dream and how this plays out in urban policy making.

In the mode of her earlier Town Meeting, after Acconci (2003), a humungous high-rise contraption in the shape of the letters for "TERROR," pitted with tiny, perfectly rendered abstract dwellings, A Roof Upended is the latest installment of Koumoundouros's ongoing dialogue with the fast pace of redevelopment in our inner cities. In this case, the roof in question is tilted on brand-new wooden trusses, all done in a Dutch-hip-with-dormers style, representing, as the title promises, the utopian counterpoint to the front side's gloomy, mossy decay, with but a few sheets of corroded fiberglass separating the two. Pierced through by one of Open Satellite's huge industrial columns, the "roof " is ludicrously propped on two pillions of stacked food cans, mostly beans, and a blackened two-by-four with chunks of sculpted coal attached to it. On one end is a fringe of gold plastic rattling in the breeze of a concealed fan, captioned by the bold red "Thank You" on shopping bags. And to hammer home the point about redevelopment's underlying redistribution of basic material and human resources, Koumoundouros also places in the gallery's windows sheets of discarded plywood pierced with irregular viewing slots, but which on the other side display mock posters of pie charts and endorsements like "feel better now," "just beyond living," and Edward Abbey's famous "growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of the cancer cell." In effect, Koumoundouros takes us to the very nitty-gritty of the current downtown real estate boom (or what's left of it), putting the mode back into the production.

But offsetting the manner of wholesale reconstruction with its own conceptually rendered or even found traces is hardly an anodyne to the cancer of economic displacement, especially one that is so entwined in people's life choices and how they live them. This is the fine edge separating make-do from make-work that Koumoundouros understands so well, inscribing it in the very finish of her materials, whether urban detritus, a beautiful desiccated dragonfly, or an abused blue hanger.

[ILLUSTRATIONS OMITTED]
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Author:Pence, Elizabeth
Publication:ArtUS
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jan 1, 2008
Words:473
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