I was asleep when you waked up the buffalo.
Kenneth Koch, “Buffalo Days,” 1960.
The metronome of our collective circadian rhythm is off. The surreality of every waking moment calls to question whether we’ve ever been awake at all, or if we’ve ever slept. Evolutions and revolutions that have been brewing for centuries come full-circle within the blink of an eye, but did they really, if we blinked when they occurred? When You Waked Up the Buffalo is a compass for alternative art histories—the worlds that happen when one oversleeps, or the hallucinations of an insomniac—everyday realities that become nonsensical with the softest pinch.
When You Waked Up the Buffalo is a timeline that begins, ends, or in-betweens (depending on when one waked up and which direction she’s walking) with a Big Bang of abstract and emergent figures and forms. Stefania Batoeva’s hard brushstrokes collide into one another and tectonically generate a reclining form upon which what appears to be a chair is seated. Shahla K. Friberg’s stained-glass stalagmites reflect and refract light across the room, alter its form, and toy with its dimensions, while Grant Foster channels Magritte in the feminine abstract. Hugo Wilson’s ethereal bronze stampede springs forth from Shaan Syed’s elegant, layered wave, or perhaps it is summoned by Katherina Olschbaur’s orgy of angels. Wilson’s violent origin story gives way to Olivia Erlanger’s suburbia in a snowglobe, casting the viewer as omnipotent spectator, while Matthias Garcia’s protagonist projects herself back under glass via Facetime.
The figures are full now, their bodies tangible: a loosely-rendered woman carefully toes the line of her existence on an oceanfront in Devin B. Johnson’s stitched-together linen surface; Isabelle Albuquerque’s headless, solid walnut form calls to mind ancient Grecian relics, or represents a manual for a more practical scale of human; Nicolette Mishkan’s levitating mermaid pulls her severed body together from an impossible desert swamp.
At the End of the Day, Larry Madrigal’s painting, provides a lovingly banal retort to the anarchy in the foreground. The subject’s exposed testicles appear to posit the question: were you asleep when the buffalo waked, and was it all a dream?