jon malis


The true "American Spectacle" rarely exists without an entrance fee or guided tour. Many include well-intentioned, yet overly elaborate historical contextualizations and attractions that are meant to create an all-encompassing experience, but rather, fall short of their marks.

Just 100 meters down the trail from Natural Bridge's spectacular natural geologic formation, exists the sort of historical recreation we all remember from middle school fieldtrips - a recreation of a 17th Century Monacan Indian village. What I found most fascinating about Natural Bridge and its Native American village was not the bridge itself, but rather, the general level of comprehension that the tourist information and guides expect of the visitor. Throughout the village, it is impossible to step more than three or four feet without coming face-to-face with a standardized 1-square-foot sign, describing some facet of the encampment that would be otherwise be "lost" to the casual observer.

It is with this amazement in mind - that a circular pile of rocks must be described as a communal trash dump and that a fence is used to keep intruders out - that I approached translating this adventure into the gallery. As an intricate component of the "American Spectacle", it is my duty as an artist - the anthropological expert for the Spectacle which this show is tasked to examine - to create informational signs for the gallery, describing elements of the exhibition's landscape and composition which may be foreign to those uninitiated with contemporary artistic culture and practices.

Spectacle Monitor (12"x12")
Spectacle Monitor (Detail)
Spectacle Pedestal (12"x12")
Spectacle Garbage Pit (from our ADVENTURE to Natural Bridge)