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DENNIS BALK

Mr. Balk’s published and exhibited works are an exploration of the intersections between visual art and its narrative context. Balk’s books function as Exhibition Novels; collections of visual art submerged in all manner of narrative invention.

Balk exhibits art works in International venues and participates in the evolution of an aesthetic that is aligned with discursive issues concerning the existential conflicts of media, narrative and the representation of the self in historical time.

SEVEN ELEVEN, The Complete Files

SEVEN ELEVEN, The Complete Files, is a collection of short stories, stunning visuals and theoretical science interwoven with a variety of compelling conspiracies, told by a variety of characters, an absolutely alternative style of storytelling, the Exhibition Novel. 

Part One, The Cash Register Files, are stories that involve a mysterious source of data which is streamed directly into the store’s cash register. The codes, discovered in the visuals, have been decrypted by a group of geneticists and the implications on our current understanding of human DNA are startling. The characters, who are stuck in the convenience store, record their passing time in a variety of ways, which become many of the stories in the book. Several of the characters are young t-shirt designers. Their visual, graphic designs are represented and critiqued in the book which becomes yet another tangent, embedded in the overall story.

Part Two, The Radio Interview, is the transcribed interview of the main characters in the convenience market story, long after the major event has passed. Their hardships and travails become a type of cliche noir drama, laced with suspicious conspiracy theories. It all comes together, in the real time Interview, with a shocking conclusion, especially for the subject of the interview who is the author. 

Alternative. Visually engaging. And, certainly entertaining. The Complete Files are unexpected and surprisingly original literature.

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The story punches holes in the plastic veneer of pop culture and its money, money disposable aesthetics. Dennis Balk's work from the past several decades has consistently undermined the categories and genres of art making which keep aesthetics palatable for pedestrians. This Book is a collection of oddities wrapped up in a conspiracy that trembles with originality. 

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The former New York artist gives pop culture another money run, this time in a convenience market. This collection of streamed voices, transcribed surveillance audio tapes,
t-shirt graphics and the perplexing tedium of a group trapped in a Seven Eleven

is literature in a very raw form.

The Exhibition Novel format works well to contain the multiple personalities of the author as
well as the multiplicity of characters in the Seven Eleven story.

A perplexing trip which ultimately leads to many loose ends and conspiracy theories which defy resolution. A radical shot in the arm of the high/ low culture of literary aesthetics, to be expected from this long time visualist and story teller.

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SPLINTER GROUP, THE FASHION BRAND

Splinter Group. The fashion brand. The Long And Short Of It, the title of the catalog representing the brand. But what is this really? How do you categorize this catalog? A history of the brand? An inventory, a shoppers’ guide in the ruse of an off-beat, hipster, pop shop. Perhaps take it at face value, and forget the problem of its shortcomings and lack of definition. Let the work present in this catalog define what the brand is, and forget about what seems to be missing or what typically a fashion brand presents to its public; namely more merchandise less noisy hype.

If Splinter Group can be seen as an extended art project within the outer parameters of contemporary art practice then it can be critiqued on its ability to reach that particular audience. That could provide a semblance of formal clarity. At least given the extensive amount of visual and graphic art work.

Certainly the façade of a sociopolitical indulgence within the brand catalog will appeal to the rank and file ideologues who roam social media and hide in the dark web. Perhaps the “catalog” The Long And Short Of It, will in fact reach an audience confused by their own role in contemporary culture and this fashion brand will resonate with that particular confusion.

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A SERIES OF LITTLE WHITE BOOKS
 

VOLUME 1

ALEXANDRIA

“All men dream: but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake up in the day

to find it was vanity, but the dreamers of the day

are dangerous men, for they may act their dreams with

open eyes, to make it possible.”

 

― T.E. Lawrence, Seven Pillars of Wisdom

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VOLUME 2

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Dramatic fiction gives the truth a solid context.

 

Similarities and differences of identical material
had to be accounted for.

 

Don’t get me started,
let’s not even talk about history.

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VOLUME 3

A Primitive is trapped in the cerebral archive, memories of pictures and fragments of pictures, fragments of memories of pictures. In there, not much else appears.

 

A Neo Primitive grabs the fragments with both theoretical hands and throws them down on any flat abandoned surface knowing they won’t mean anything more than more accumulated memory, more fragments, more pieces. Perfect symmetry. Once there, not much else occurs.

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VOLUME 4

BEAT

The narrative methods of History are themselves nomadic, they skip across genres animating accuracy or emphatic realism, desperate to connect with an audience eagerly anticipating revelation. 

 

History can never render the truth of an individual, 

not in a sun drenched coffee shop, a smoky downtown club or out on the road.

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VOLUME 5

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Placebos and Moirés are utilitarian,

hardly high art but the stand in, 

the stunt double for serious art.

 

Cutting Edge is a doomed thematic

continuously replaced and outdated,

a Placebo avoids the pitfalls of replacement,

it is always considered nonreal anyway.

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VOLUME 6

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‘Channeled and streamed’ are the disenfranchised fragments that belong to no one and entertain everyone, for a moment, also quick to be discarded.

 

Trash pop, clever but charmless, infantile scratches. 

 

Even further down below there has to be some way back up. Some signage of indication that there are other walls and bridges, maybe other places.

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VOLUME 7

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If there were a connection between these things out here
I would surely tell you all about it.

Until that time comes we’ll just keep lining them up
as they come along.
The rest, for all you seekers, is up to you.
That’s about the best we can do
out on Highway 61.

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VOLUME 8

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When stories of strange behavior and persecution 

make their way to the light of day

the common belief is that less people become the victim

 

When stories attain the status of conspiracy

the light of day is the dark correspondence

tinged with unacceptable fiction

 

When stories are buried in the dark

only the correspondence

of forever repeating ciphers remains.

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