The Lion Side of Under the Porch, 2016

The Lion Side of Under the Porch
Matthew Offenbacher
INCA Seattle
Curated by Bergman and Salinas
July 17 – August 20, 2016

In the biblical story of Jonah, a prophet responds to God’s call by fleeing and hiding in a boat. Cast overboard by frightened sailors, he ends up in the belly of a whale. In mainstream interpretations, Jonah is swallowed by the whale because he disobeyed God and must suffer until he acquiesces. This equates the whale belly with spaces of institutional power that seek obedience by instilling self-discipline. I dislike this interpretation. Instead, I propose that the whale belly represents a space of transformation through shared experience.

My whale is made of bent PVC pipe. If you bump into it, it sways, so I have hung chimes and bells from its spine, turning its body into a kind of musical instrument. During the exhibition, there will be a series of performances and discussions inside the whale. These events will be free and open to the public. There will be performances of Byron Au Yong’s music, Melanie Noel will present a new poem, Rabbi Rachel Nussbaum will lead a discussion, and Dylan Ward will debut a dance performance. Dates and times are below.

The exhibition will also feature an unusual English translation of the Book of Jonah that incorporates the cantillation used to chant the story aloud. This translation is based on the work of French poet and theorist Henri Meschonnic. Among the many legacies of French postmodernist thought, the assertion that there is an arbitrary relationship between signified and signifier has facilitated the proliferation of systems that lead to mass disenfranchisement. I am excited about Meschonnic’s ideas because he refuses this duality of the sign. Where is meaning in language? he asks. Not in words and what they stand for, but in their rhythm—in the fluid, improvisational forms of human subjectivity that arise from bodies, and are shared within communities.


July 17, 6–8 pm: Opening reception

Aug. 3, 6–7 pm: Performance of Water Partitas by Byron Au Yong

Water Partitas will also be performed occasionally during gallery hours

Aug. 12, 7 pm: Presentation of a new poem by Melanie Noel

Aug. 17, 7 pm: Discussion of the Book of Jonah with Rabbi Rachel Nussbaum

Aug. 19, 8 pm: Dance performance of Jonah by Dylan Ward (Sleep Nod)

All events are free and open to the public.

Byron Au Yong’s Water Partitas performed in the whale.
Byron Au Yong’s Water Partitas performed in the whale.

Big Fish, 2016, dimensions variable, plastic, metal, wood, leather, ceramic, foam, concrete, glass, latex, water, fabric, spray paint, shells; Worm, 2016, 3.5 x .5 x 1.75", polymer clay and wire; Book of Jona, 2016, 20 page pamphlet, 7 x 4.25", ink on paper, free unlimited edition. Photos by Aeron Bergman.