Y. David Chung is an artist of formidable talents, but his collaboration with several others on the multi-media installation "Angulas: Street of Gold," at Maryland Art Place through March 23, doesn't pack the punch it ought to.
One wall of MAP's first floor gallery bears a photography/drawing mural by photographer Claudio Vazquez and Chung depicting in multiple panels the jangling urban life of a run-down neighborhood. Opposite is Chung's wall-size drawing of a surreal and threatening urban scene, and in front of this two TV monitors play a 20-minute video portraying the life of an immigrant in an American city. Other collaborators are videographer Matt Dibble, composer/musicians W. A. Johnston and Charles Tobermann, and actor/poet Quique Aviles.
Amidst the decay of inner-city life in a multi-ethnic neighborhood, the immigrant pursues a numbing daily existence with a job in a diner, and on his day off goes to a mall to look at all the things he can't afford.
In an essay accompanying the installation, artist-critic Margo Machida states it "presents a complex vision of a shifting spectrum of ethnic groups 'sharing' an evolving inner city landscape that is both beguiling and explosive. . . ." But it doesn't. The character the video follows scarcely interacts with anybody. The work's ironies, from the title "Street of Gold" to a paperweight of the Statue of Liberty, are heavy-handed. ("Angulas" is a dish of eels -- like the writhing life in a city).
The plight of the immigrant who comes to this country with hope and ends up in a marginal life is real, but this work isn't tough enough to engage our emotions.
I think presentation is a problem here. MAP's first floor is too big for this, so it's broken up and watered down. Putting it in a small room where the murals virtually covered the walls, where the videos were blaring and you couldn't get away from them, might be more effective.
A separate show on MAP's second floor will be reviewed tomorrow in Maryland Live.