Richard Haley was born in Sacramento, California and studied art at UC Davis. It is no accident that when he moved to Detroit, he brought with him a little bit of the West Coast vibe. His solo show, “Mary, Richard, Clouds and Dirt” at Bas Fisher Invitational is a solid mixture of romance, poetry, humor and intellect. This collection of photographs, videos, objects and drawings serves as residue of performance and imaginative play within the landscape, all of which reflect a sincere loyalty to Bay Area Conceptualism. Haley’s brand is genuine and stands bravely hopeful, albeit alone, amongst an endless sea of ironic and satirical one-liners that characterize much of what has become of conceptualism in general. Welcome to Miami, Richard, I have been impatiently waiting for you.
Haley’s latest word works are usually followed by an action, as they are to be considered, proposals or inventions. These proposals can take the form of a sketch or develop further into interventions that are recorded through video and photography. One of my favorites in the show at BFI is DEVICE TO PULL THE CLOUDS OUT OF THE SKY. He has created a crude skin-like device of latex forms cast from his hands and stitched together using his wife’s long strands of hair. A bowl is formed between the hands, behaving like a reservoir for the cloud after it falls. It is a functional object that fulfills a fantasy. The fantasy is lived in the mind, of course, yet the language, for Haley, does not suffice. He needs a prop, an image, or an action to supplement the words; something to make the experience seem more real, for himself and his audience.
DEVICE TO SATURATE A HILL WITH RAIN UNTIL IT SWELLS UP TO MEET THE BOTTOM OF THE SKY is another latex sculpture. It is shaped like a funnel that is buried in the top of a mound of dirt. It is meant to collect rainwater as it falls from the sky and direct it into the mound causing an imaginary swelling effect. The suggestion is ridiculous, yet provocatively Freudian. Undoubtedly, much of the work in this show is inspired by Haley’s partnership with his wife, Mary Elizabeth Anderson, a performance artist and scholar who will join Haley for a “puppet-assisted lecture” on December 3 during Art Basel Miami Beach. “Mary, Richard, Clouds and Dirt” is a collection of works created within the past two years while Haley and Anderson have been living and working in Detroit. What they've brought back with them at BFI has renewed my faith in the importance of dreaming.
~Felecia Chizuko Carlisle, an artist and writer living in Miami.
Images: Richard Haley, DEVICE TO PULL THE CLOUDS OUT OF THE SKY; DEVICE TO SATURATE A HILL WITH RAIN UNTIL IT SWELLS UP TO MEET THE BOTTOM OF THE SKY; ATTEMPT TO DISAPPEAR INTO WHERE THE BLUE OF THE SKY TOUCHES THE BLUE OF THE SEA. All 2009-2011. Courtesy the artist.