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April 17, 2009 – June 14, 2009
Mark Wentzel’s Morale Hazard was an installation that examined corporate power, masculinity, and money, each in a precarious state of transformation or decline. Combining the history of the Contemporary’s site as a former truck repair facility, and questions surrounding the U.S. Government’s bail out of the auto industry, Wentzel’s project utilized an altered classic “muscle car” and a growth chart, two icons that represent conditions of physical and financial freedom and vitality.
Viewers were confronted by a 1965 Ford Mustang suspended nose down from the architectural trusses of the Center, with the engine dislocated from its usual location under the hood. The artist stated: “Like the industry itself, which has vacated the city of Atlanta over the past decades, the Mustang’s V-8 engine walks away, on prosthetic wooden ball-and-claw legs, under its own volition.” This dramatic scene conjured imagery of torture and disemboweling, transposing flesh for iron and steel. The remade engine is a curious source of energy independence, combining aspects of animal and cultural potency.
A large Eadweard Muybridge-esque wall drawing re-stated the Mustang’s logo as a stop-action galloping horse, tracking the rise and fall of economic indicators in a crumbling graphic style. Wentzel’s work asked questions about technology and the erosion of belief in inherited societal structures.
Mark Wentzel was born in the Detroit area, and currently lives and works in Atlanta. Three versions of his recent work Xlounge, an adaptation of the iconic Eames lounge chair and ottoman, will be shown in Consequential Matters, an exhibition at the Centers for Disease Control’s Global Health Odyssey Museum in June 2009.