Quintessa Matranga and Rafael Delacruz made most of the work for “Dizzy World,” their collaborative show at Kimberly Klark in Ridgewood, Queens, just feet from their bedroom. “[The studio is] this downstairs living room that we share with the whole house, so they walk through it all the time,” Matranga said. The area is covered with the couple’s art, hung salon style. “When we moved in it was just like their garage—they were just putting boxes and suitcases over there,” Delacruz said. “We kind of spiritually took it over and everyone knows that’s our zone now.”
The two, who make work together as well as separately (Delacruz also with the collective Last Renaissance), migrated to New York from the Bay Area about a year ago. Before the move, Matranga ran the San Francisco gallery Mission Comics, located inside an actual comic-book shop of the same name. The space showed work from artists including Body by Body and Jessica Ciocci, and both Delacruz and Matranga are involved in a range of curatorial activities. (Disclosure: Matranga has contributed to these pages.)
The title for the Kimberly Klark show comes from Dizzy Worldwide, the moniker of a design and animation studio whose reel Delacruz stumbled upon on YouTube. Existing primarily in the late 1990s and early 2000s, Dizzy Worldwide traded in the kind of quick-cut post-electronica video bumpers that MTV was famous for around the turn of the century. The reel reminded me of something that would’ve been shown on MTV’s late-night rave-on-TV Amp, soundtracked with a continuous stream of high-energy jungle music.
Although the name “Dizzy World” conjures up images of some sort of insane multimedia art blowout—all baggy JNCOs, psychedelic VJ graphics, and chopped-up breakbeats—the reality is that the show itself is actually pretty traditional and decidedly low-key. Matranga told me that they “wanted to make a show that actually looked nothing like the music video, to throw it off.”
The exhibition is comprised of three main elements. In Kimberly Klark’s gallery room, a trio of colorful paintings by Delacruz—inspired by a bout of food poisoning, they are perhaps the most “Dizzy-esque” things in the show, reminding me a bit of Phillip Guston but also of contemporary children’s cartoons—sit across from a series of black-and-white graphite-on-paper drawings by Matranga that refer to, according to the artist, everything from personal subway observations to a poster on Meadow’s wall in an episode of The Sopranos. “They’re all weird narratives and their own psychological worlds,” Matranga said.
In a closet-like back area just behind the main gallery lay six found photographs and a primitive sculpture made by Matranga called Ask the Dust. The sculpture spins an old leather boot on a rotisserie spit, aided by white buckets and concrete. Adjacent to that, five found photographs of a mysterious cowboy figure are propped up on a wooden beam. A sixth found photo, of a tomato enclosed in glass, sticks to the wall across from the cowboy snaps. This weird Dust Bowl ambiance seems from a different world and a different age—a million miles away from the kind of late ’90s kitsch alluded to in the show’s title.
In “Dizzy World,” brief moments of continuity are consistently disrupted. Flecks of narrative and environment sit next to each other in a way that feels collaged, but not for any specific aesthetic ends. Some things were found at a thrift store, some things were found on YouTube. “It’s really more jumbled and weirdly contrasting but not for any specific reason,” Matranga said. “I feel like the mix ties in the narratives more than talking about them,” she continued, alluding to the Soundcloud mix the two made along with the show.
The mix in question serves as a sonic accompaniment to the visuals. It starts with a classic Ennio Morricone tune before cycling through a weird jumble of sounds and styles, moving from dusty country to deep dub and rave. It ends with a chilly piece of synthesizer music. Like the show, it merges different sensibilities together in an uneasy way.
The duo’s process is intuitive and internal. It feels less self-conscious and more seamless, something that happens while the TV is on and the laptop is open. Delacruz talked about “multiple screens at once” being a part of the process, and at times the show feels like, thematically, it’s channel surfing. A previous collaborative exhibition at Et al. Gallery in San Francisco juxtaposed Delacruz’s drawings with stock black-and-white photos of, among other things, Elvis. The title of that show was “100% Stupid.”
“We wanted it to be easy, not break your back trying to make a show,” Matranga said with a laugh, before admitting that the presentation was “maybe a little bit reactionary to other trends in New York where people are really trying to impress people. Crazier materials, crazier sculptures.” To “just do a simple drawing on paper with pencil is nice sometimes,” she continued.