Out Beyond the Manger
November 18 - Decemeber 18 2016
“A snake’s eyes aren’t very good, but they can detect movement, so if the hatchling keeps its nerve, it may just avoid detection.”
Anywhere along Interstate Fifty-Nine south of Tuscaloosa is a good place to drive at night if you like to go fast. There isn’t a whole lot out there until you reach Meridian, and then it’s a straight shot down to Biloxi and the rest of the gulf. A few small towns dot the landscape, punctuated by neon signs for diesel or all night smoke shops (xxx). Towns with names like Moundville, Boligee, Alison, Fosters.
Just outside of Eutaw, Alabama a man swerved in front of me. As he overcorrected I watched his truck bounce off the shallow concrete barriers a few times before swinging around and slamming head on into the last barrier before a break into a meadow. Unlucky I guess. It came to rest at an awkward sideways motion and then suddenly was very still. Stiller then you can imagine. Glass and shreds of metal covered the highway in front of us riding an inky wave of neon coolant and gasoline. Now when you see something like this and you’ve seen a wreck or two before, you already know they're dead. 911 isn’t your savior, and if you have a precious second to make peace you better take it and grunt with everything you’ve got to make that diaphragm whisper out a few words you feel might be meaningful. And don’t worry about what’s on the other end of that tunnel you start to see form between your eyes.
I ran down the shoulder of the road towards the crash. A few semi trucks passed by with their jake brakes roaring. As I got closer I could see a figure kneeling outside the crumpled truck. There were a few gentle trickles of blood that dotted his T-shirt collar and the area around his brow. Before he could say anything I asked him if there was anyone else in the car, he shook his head for a wobbly second but his mind was somewhere else completely. I was worried maybe there was a kid in the car or another person. The way the truck was faced I was confronted with the only intact windows left. The limo tint was amplified by the especially moonless night. I used my pocketknife to smash one of the windows out. It felt nice shattering the tempered safety glass. The interior was empty and looked well kept.
When I turned back the other way the driver had managed to get on his feet. We locked eyes for a second standing there in the middle of the road. He was red faced and had even pissed himself a bit. He tried to mumble something but it was incoherent. The smell of vodka carried off his clothes. “You almost killed me you motherfucker” I said. “Fuck you.” I took my time walking back to the car. The crickets were making a strange harmony, in cadence nonetheless. I never heard or saw any sirens as I drove away.
A state trooper might have drove by some time later, hard to say.
Boiled peanuts from the gas station sit in salty warm brine. It feels good to sip the brine while you sit on the curb and watch the procession of red brake lights disappear into the frigid air, around the bend off by some trees and gravel.
Dennis Wornick (b. 1991 McAllen, TX) is a Los Angeles-based artist who works to deconstruct our understanding of object making and its capacity to act as a vessel for cultural and political commentary. His multi-disciplinary approach culminates in a series of visually abstracted investigations into the American psyche of violence, banality, upheaval and consumerism. Wornick utilizes a mix of potent imagery culled from various dark corners of research, including repetitive motifs of oil drums, body armor, car & motorcycle customization, contraband and surveillance equipment. The result is a confrontational arrangement of strangely insightful objects that reference his interest in unseen histories, and an attempt to chart the complex trajectories of the counter culture landscape. Wornick has had a solo exhibition at Phil Gallery, Los Angeles, CA; and has also exhibited with Martos Gallery: Presents: Shoot the Lobster in Miami, FL; Human Resources, Los Angeles, CA; S-A-D-E Gallery, Los Angeles, CA; AS-IT-STANDS Gallery, Los Angeles, CA; Sensei, New York, NY; and Otras Obras, Tijuana, Mexico.
Images by Will Richter