A tiny amber light near each seat flicked on, signaling visitors that it was time to pick up their glass and open up an accompanying valve, sending syrupy brown liquid (a Manhattan cocktail, Zebulon later told me) flowing from the spigots. Everyone started talking. Some walked around, taking in details up close and touching the surfaces, while others stayed in their seats, as if waiting for further instruction. It felt novel, not gimmicky—Zebulon and Wentrcek were careful not to “gameify” the situation—and the shared sense of the unknown created a feeling of immediacy and intimacy heightened by the location within the artists’ own studio.
To create a situation that encourages sustained engagement with their installation, the pair borrowed the best elements of openings—a time for critical thinking, dialogue, and, of course, free alcohol—and set them to an intimate scale. And though Intermediate States
might superficially conjure
or the relational performances of someone like
, that’s not really the goal. To Wentrcek and Zebulon, the performative elements are more about creating an open-ended entry point for the viewer. In fact, they don’t even watch or listen to what the visitors do inside the space; they’re busy keeping things moving behind the scenes.
While the pared-down guest list means that many people won’t have a chance to directly experience Intermediate States in person, those who are curious can still appreciate Wentrcek and Zebulon’s next major installation: a site-specific piece for the entrance of the Collective Design fair, which runs from March 9th through 11th. Made of similar materials and forms as Intermediate States, the new piece is also meant to evoke a transitory state: that eerily familiar feeling of locker rooms and other places you stop on your way to somewhere else. Only this time, Wentrcek and Zebulon have conceived of the installation as a series of faceted and lit-from-within modules that they’ll arrange for visitors to walk around and through.
While Wentrcek and Zebulon aren’t sure what will come next after Collective, chances are it won’t be what’s expected of them. “A lot of people wait to get discovered, try and show stuff to people, and do a ton of group shows,” Wentrcek explains. “We were lucky enough that we had a big enough space where we could say, ‘Well, fuck that. We’ll just make it.’”