By Thomas Miritello, Contributing Writer
To make a long story short, see “Total Proof: The GALA Committee 1995-1997” as soon as possible. It will only be open to the public on Wednesdays through Sundays until Nov. 27, so if you have the means to experience it — even just for an hour — go. “Total Proof” is an art installation at Red Bull Studios which exposes subliminal messages placed within props from the set of the popular 90’s soap opera “Melrose Place.”
Don’t let the overarching theme of a dated, sappy, overly dramatic soap opera turn you off —“Total Proof” is not going to try to make you care about the show’s plot. While clips of the show play in the exhibit and some plot is explained, it is merely for the context of the art.
The GALA Committee was an arts collective led by Mel Chin, a Georgia-based artist with strong political opinions. As explained in the gallery, The GALA Committee created props for “Melrose Place” between 1995 and 1997 with subtle (or sometimes not-so-subtle) political messages embedded within them. This, for a great deal of time, was done without anyone in the show’s knowledge.
Once the titular “Total Proof” wall art was placed on set, a good amount of the directorial crew picked up. Instead of throwing away The GALA Committee, they worked these political messages into the show and faxed scripts and notes (of which copies are posted above the actual pieces) between the collective and the writers, resulting in a collaboration one would not expect from a “90210” spinoff.
At the exhibit, sets from the shows are either recreated — or in some cases, the originals are used. In the recreations, the sets are painted grey, leaving The GALA Committee’s art as the only pieces of color in the room. Explanations of the art’s relevance to the show are printed on plaques on the walls next to the art. If you feel brave enough, you can actually sit in a room in the back of the gallery and watch an endless loop of episodes of the show.
What’s most interesting about the exhibit is that a great deal of the actors was unaware of the existence of its displays at all, as were a good portion of the viewership of the original show. Even watching the provided clips, some of the political messages are hidden so well that it would take premonition to pick them out blindly. The GALA Committee are geniuses of their craft, but nobody has really taken a good look at their genius until now.
This is one of many art installations that Red Bull has acted as both a host and sponsor for. They have been branching out into more art and music appreciation recently, which many artists are split on—some find a corporation’s sponsorship of the arts to be pushing an agenda, where others feel that it’s nice to have recognition and aid from an establishment company. Regardless of one’s stance, this is an interesting and intense exhibit that anyone who appreciates art in any way should experience.
“Total Proof: The GALA Committee 1995-1997” is on display at 220 W 18th St until Nov. 27.
Email Thomas Miritello at firstname.lastname@example.org.