Best Gallery Show St. Louis 2003 - David Helm
Many St. Louisans remember the astonishment to be found inside 2000's Wonderland exhibit at the St. Louis Art Museum. Installation artists transformed the SLAM's special-exhibition spaces into what seemed to be sets from sci-fi films and other bizarre walk-through experiences. Earlier this year, in the same spirit, artist David Helm utterly transformed the University of Missouri-St. Louis' Gallery 210 into a nightmarish, high-tech home of the future, using TV screens, interactivity and acres of particle board. Helm's Automated Dispositions featured a dining room, living room, den and love seat, all made of mundane particle board, in which gallery visitors could sit and interact. The love seat was a cold parody of the way technology distances us, with video monitors instead of touch joining each person in a couple. Perhaps the greatest achievement of Helm's labor-intensive marvel, though, was the interactive dining room. Four people, each sitting at one of the chairs around a circular table, were instructed to read aloud vapid lines of stereotypical family dinner-table conversation. As gallery-goers found themselves "pretending" to be average humans engaging in ordinary, daily ritual, the effect was hilarious and chilling at the same time.