Artist Adam Milner on Echo Chamber and New Work for the Biennial of the Americas 2015

Denver artist Adam Milner has been out of town, earning his MFA at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, but he’ll be back intermittently this summer for a couple of exhibitions, beginning with Echo Chamber, which opens Friday, June 5 at David B. Smith Gallery, and then in July as part of the 2015 Biennial of the Americas exhibit NOW? NOW! We asked Milner about the shows and what’s to follow.

Westword: What's the concept behind Echo Chamber, and how will it be presented?

Adam Milner: Echo Chamber is an exhibition of stories and things. Sometimes these stories and things seem to repeat themselves or echo among each other. Artifacts, culled mostly from my personal experiences, will be displayed on tables, and I'll be doing performances in the form of storytelling sessions or tours that elaborate on the things on view. Objects are preserved, created, and altered with painstaking love and attention. I'm showing things like a wisdom tooth from a lover cast in silver.

The term “echo chamber" first resonated with me while thinking about social media and how we “Subscribe” and “Like” our way into cyclical feeds of information which we know will please and reaffirm us. This method of experiencing the world is quite limiting, yet feels so good. Our personal perspectives are reinforced as we seek out what pleases us, and I might simultaneously challenge and reinforce this tendency with Echo Chamber.

Will the artist tours be typical, or can participants expect a different kind of experience?

I'll be organizing thematic tours which focus on the things in the show from different perspectives. One tour might be the Collector's Tour where I discuss notions of value and worth, while another tour might be Things I Didn't Make. I'm still planning these, and they'll have some healthy degree of improvisation and participation. The performances will each be unique, so I ho pe some people can come to multiple tours. They'll be simple walk-throughs of the work, but should be elucidating and complicating. 

Congrats on being chosen for the Biennial show. I don't know if you fit the profile anymore, but how do you feel about being one of the few artists with a local profile to be included? That's a big change from 2013!

Denver is incredibly important to me, so being included in this exciting show comes as a great privilege. There are so many incredible artists in Denver, which made First Draft such a great show in 2013. This time, I'm excited that the Biennial has further integrated local and international artists, as opposed to separating them. On a similar note, I'm excited to see Thief Among Thieves at MCA Denver, which includes so many great Denver artists alongside other national and international artists whom I admire.

Nowhere Voyage trailer from Adam Milner on Vimeo.

How are you approaching the Now! theme, and what can viewers expect from your contribution? In a way, the themes in your work seem tailor-made for a show like this — is that a mold you hope to break, or are you appreciative of the opportunity to fit into it?

I'm exhibiting a new work entitled "Nowhere Voyage," which sort of documents a cruise I embarked on in the fall. Hosted by Grindr, an app for men to meet men which I have used in other works, the situation immediately conflated the digital and physical, the app and the ship, cruising at sea with cruising for sex. What started as a documentary became a strange story of longing, loneliness and placelessness, as we drifted out there together.

The work centers on a film but includes other objects as well, and is part of a larger ongoing body of work, Cruising Studies, which researches these themes in various ways. It was     serendipitous that I was working on the project when Lauren Wright was planning the exhibition, and it's a very new sort of endeavor that I'm looking forward to sharing.

What's next for you after this summer? 

I'm also getting ready to publish Stream, the manuscript from the 24-hour monologue I performed a year and a half ago as part of my show Wave so I know you're real at Emmanuel Gallery. I'll host some sort of performance/release when it's ready. 

Echo Chamber opens with a reception from 7 to 9 p.m. Friday, June 5 at David B. Smith and runs through July 3. But to truly experience it, you should attend one or all of three thematic guided performance tours with Milner, on June 13, 18 and 27. Admission is free; go to the gallery website for details. The 2015 Biennial of the Americas art exhibition NOW? NOW!, including work by Adam Milner, opens with a party from 9 to 11 p.m. Wednesday, July 15 at MCA Denver and runs through August 30. Find more information at BotA 2015 online.

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Susan Froyd started writing for Westword as the "Thrills" editor in 1992 and never quite left the fold. These days she still freelances for the paper in addition to walking her dogs, enjoying cheap ethnic food and reading voraciously. Sometimes she writes poetry.
Contact: Susan Froyd