Black Forest Altar by Daniel Bruttig
Black Forest Altar by Daniel Bruttig Credit: Courtesy the artist

In “Wisconessee,” the hours have long since ceased to pass, if they ever did. Golden arms stand still over the faded paint of numerals on a clock face. Small wooden cuckoos peer silently from their darkened doors. This isn’t a single clock but a collection of numbers, hands, and faces—connected and unfolding in a kaleidoscopic bloom. It’s as if a cell has divided and reproduced, creating its own strain of being. This is the strain that weaves its way through the world created by Daniel Bruttig and Duncan R. Anderson, animating the creatures that populate the strange corners of “Wisconessee.”

Bruttig grew up in the north woods of Wisconsin, Anderson in the Smoky Mountains of eastern Tennessee. When the two first met in Chicago over a decade ago, they were struck by the similarities in their backgrounds—both the mountains and the woods seemed to share an ethos. The cultural archetypes familiar to Bruttig were also familiar to Anderson, and the two felt able to access the same type of memory without any actual shared experience. Together, they could enter the territory where personal history becomes a kind of mythology, where memories converge to create a world that exists outside of space and time.

That world is “Wisconessee”—neither Wisconsin nor Tennessee, neither Bruttig’s childhood home nor Anderson’s. Instead it’s a collection of objects, like relics pulled from dreams. Bruttig and Anderson both work in drawing and sculpture; their pieces have been curated together in tight clusters, offering no division between the two. There are no wall placards to betray provenance. The idea is to understand the work as a whole, a world attributable to no particular god. A bit of investigation will reveal that Anderson’s work seems to be underwritten by an element of natural mysticism, while Bruttig traffics more in the oddities of the everyday world. Both artists pay particular attention to lighting, to the way the work will cast shadows throughout the room. That’s fitting: a shadow offers outlines of the world, but itself can never quite be touched.