Rob Fischer: Few Landmarks and No Boundaries

My Artforum review of the exhibition Rob Fischer: Few Landmarks and No Boundaries at Franklin Art Works, Minneapolis, through Oct. 30.

For years, Rob Fischer has been building strange hybrid vehicles: a glass-roofed rowboat with a matching greenhouse trailer, a single-engine plane with an ice-fishing shack for a cockpit. This exhibition continues the theme, although transport is more implied than depicted, and it’s unclear whether movement represents escape from rural America or, for a Minnesota native like Fischer transplanted to New York, a yearning for home.

Fischer captures the desolate winter landscape of northern Minnesota in four videos; liquid propane-tank sales lots, shuttered tourist shops, and fleet-supply stores are seen through the windows of a borrowed Buick. Handpainted signs propped against a wall suggest discarded wayfinders, while a two-dimensional wall sculpture, accented by colors seen in the videos, arranges slats of gymnasium flooring in a geometric maze reminiscent of country roadways.

Another personal habitat for Fischer is here, too: that of the art world. Submerged in a pond constructed in the gallery is the twisted hull of a boat, painted up in Mondrian red, yellow, and blue. A series of suspended clear plastic cubes reference a Jasper Johns set piece for Merce Cunningham’s Walkaround Time (1968), although Fischer’s version has a quirky, regionally appropriate tweak: Screenprinted on one are Hubbard County Sheriff’s notices, copied from a small-town paper, that highlight snowmobiling infractions, DWIs, and one count of failure to wear BLAZE ORANGE IN FIREARM DEER SEASON. Likewise, a deconstructed billboard of the kind towering over area roads might offer another art-historical reference––fluorescent tubes à la Dan Flavin. But the exposed wiring and rough construction, not to mention the lonely stretch of highway (complete with a Cindy Q gas-station sign), suggest that it’s midwestern pragmatism, not intended allusion, that dictated his choices.

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