Ashton Phillips: Worm Hole
1206 Maple Ave LA, CA 90015 5th floor #523
Saturday, April 27 at 7:00 PM 10:00 PM
Ends May 26, 2024
Tiger Strikes Asteroid Los Angeles is pleased to present Ashton Phillips: Worm Hole - A Portal For Plastic Bodies. Worm Hole uses sound, text, chromatic light, and pyres of partially-metabolized polystyrene plastic, preserved in egg tempera, beeswax, and mealworm-fertilized mud, to transform the gallery space into a speculative portal for plastic bodies. At a time when trans and nonbinary people are being targeted by statehouses, neo-fascist Tiktok celebrities, and schoolhouse bullies, Worm Hole imagines a cosmic pathway to an alternative reality where the plasticity of material bodies, including their capacity to morph shape, transmute substance, and heal, is celebrated and revered. Stacked Pyres of partially-metabolized styrofoam rubble populate the gallery floor, like the towers of wood that were once assembled to “test” the godliness of those accused of witchcraft and other heresies. But there are no witches here to burn, only carbon trapped in a toxic industrialized form, waiting to be released into its fluidity. Spotlit from below with pink and blue grow lights like karaoke superstars or prize fruit trees from a speculative postnatural food forest, these Pyres stand on a stage of loose, post-plastic earth, gathered from local sites with a history petroleum extraction and military occupation. Poisoned yet fertile, this dirty ground holds both the toxic traces of petro-colonial exploitation and the nutrient-rich possibilities of plastic transformed into nitrogen and calcium-rich fertilizer by this trans ecosystem of shapeshifting creatures. Mealworm-shaped Swarm Pots collect and hold this damaged, yet vibrant, earth, in handbuilt vessels around the gallery, raising it up like an imperfect offering of trans/more-than-human care for the castoff fragments of parking lot cacti that now grow inside them. Looking Glass - a suspended collage of overlapping translucent plastic inscribed with poetic “facts,” semi-translucent pools of pollution-consuming mycorrhizal fungal egg tempera, lacy prints of partially-metabolized styrofoam, and more-than-human language - hangs in space between the main gallery and its large composite window. Looking Glass intervenes in space and disrupts the unmarked gaze, transforming the view of Los Angeles through the gallery’s large window into a kaleidoscopic cityscape of purple, text, and more-than-human gesture, like a portal to a different outside world. Composed of reflective materials that also cast color and shadow into the gallery space, Looking Glass acts on the observer as much as it acts on the observed, requiring viewers to accept the possibility of being written and marked upon by these plastic bodies as a precondition of looking at and through them. Worm Hole also features a new series of worm-hole shaped wall works, which reference the shapes that the mealworms eat into the styrofoam, expanded up to human mouth/body scale. These irregularly shaped forms are built of shaped plywood frames, covered in stretched and sewn translucent vinyl, plexi, and insect netting and filled with styrofoam particulate, dirt, and the dehydrated flowers that once nourished the mealworms as they metabolized this plastic. These Worm Holes are mounted on to the wall of the gallery to suggest that the architecture of the space itself may be more plastic, more ecological, and more capable of metamorphosis and repair less stable than it appears. A motion-activated sound installation floods the space with a textural, meditative, and ASMR-like soundscape of studio and field recordings relating to this work: insect and dirt recordings from the artist’s studio mix with sounds from sites where this styrofoam was recovered, including sounds from a particularly polluted beach and a nearby field of pumpjacks. Spell-like and spatial, this sonic field reaches out to all of the plastic bodies that enter the space, like an invitation to another realm where we might go together to eat and be eaten, fall apart and recombine, rest and heal. On April 27th at 7pm, the artist will perform an activation to open up the Worm Hole, using touch, movement, and sound to connect and expand the materiality of the space and the plastic bodies within it. A closing reception will also be held on Saturday, May 25th with readings from the Phillips’ Trial by Pyre - a poetic, nonlinear research brief of facts assembled through the artists’ experimental and materially-driven practice, including meditations on plastic, metamorphosing mealworm/beetles, purple, (anti) transness, environmental justice, evolutionary biology, testosterone, and pump jacks.