An inaudible murmuring pervades Elias Hansens exhibition “This is the last place I could hide,” at Maccarone. The titles of the works form a running conversation of whispered reminisces and furtive passion: “I’ve got such a thing for you,” “That wasn’t the night, it was a different night,” “I’m in” (all 2010.) These titles add a narrative layer to the objects, imbuing Hansen’s glass flasks and capsules with quirky personalities and dogged purpose.
Hansen works in hand-blown glass, although not exclusively. Glass vessels congregate in colorful duos and trios in the goose-necked bongs comprising “It’s a good thing we’re here.” Lone canisters are often interrupted by a sullying element, such as the disintegrating cork in “This is the last place I could hide.”
When enough receptacles gather, they form larger lab-like installations. “I’ve made a lot of love from this one” involves beakers, rubber tubing, a metal table, and gurgling water buckets. In theory it is a functioning still — one could use it to distill alcohol, should the need arise.
Hansen hails from the Pacific Northwest of Kelly Reichardts films, populated with drifters, hippies, freight train-hoppers, and drug cookers. The works succeed, even without the hand-squeezing titles, in summoning images of damp woods and meth dens. The viewer feels she is trespassing, snooping around a shed, risking discovery by someone suspicious and unsavory.
No work is more successful in creating this sense of paranoid surveillance and shady dealings than “We can work this out,” a lean-to made of tar paper, wood, and sheet rock, fitted with a lens, ground by the artist, that allows the inhabitant to spot any prowlers. The works inside the lean-to include the grungiest home lab in the show, repurposed cigar boxes, and a gritty photograph that looks like it has been around for a while. In nineties Seattle parlance, this piece is hella tight.