The Rice Thresher, Vol. 96, No. 18, Ed. 1 Friday, January 30, 2009 Page: 9 of 20
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All trailer, no trash
Rice Gallery's latest exhibit goes green
Taken takes the cake
by Leo Carter
for the Thresher
This month's Rice Gallery exhibit
is a little out of the ordinary. While in
the same vein as the gallery's usual
architectural installations — begun
by Shigeru Ban in 2002 — the Emer-
gency Response Studio is different
because it is mobile. Artist Paul Vil-
linski had the idea for his latest piece
while rummaging through post-Hur-
ricane Katrina New Orleans in 2006
for found objects and refuse to use as
artistic material. It was then that he
noticed the dilapidated house in the
large-scale photograph that currently
hangs on the left wall of the gallery in
Reflecting on traditional war art-
ists like Winslow Homer, Villinski
said that being in New Orleans in the
wake of Katrina made him feel like
some war was being waged.
"We should have artists respond
to disasters ... try to do something
useful," Villinksi said.
His is a rallying call for artists,
who he believes are as crucial in
publicizing and documenting the
plight of people in disaster-stricken
areas as emergency response or-
ganizations are in providing re-
lief with food, water and shelter.
Especially in light of the Katrina
FEMA fiasco, artists have become
"Do get involved. Do go. Do re-
spond directly to things," he insists.
Emergency Response Studio is Vil-
linski's contribution to the cause. It
is, simply put, a trailer — the same
model as those employed by FEMA in
K : - • • •• " • <v . \ . .
Editors' picks for events
outside the hedges, both
around Rice and in the
Houston area, for this week.
New Orleans — but with substantial
modifications. Villinski and his col-
leagues spent over a year tearing the
shoddily constructed trailer apart and
rebuilding it, essentially from scratch.
They cut holes and created large
spaces in which most artistic pursuits
would be very feasible. They com-
pletely removed one wall, which now
folds out into a large outdoor deck.
The functionality of the trailer is
the project's greatest accomplish-
ment. During construction, Villinski
told me that they were able to power
all their tools — belt-sanders, power
drills and the like — from the trailer's
own power source. It is completely
self-sustaining, containing even its
own freshwater supply.
The Sewall Hall gallery itself fea-
tures an exhibit of the process and
theory behind the project. Inside are
several wooden models of trailers,
the largest of which is a mock-up of a
traditional FEMA trailer.
Cramped and narrow, with barely
enough room in which to turn
around, the trailer could house a
family of four for an indeterminate
period of time while being exposed
to five to 10 times as much off-gassed
formaldehyde than the FDA consid-
ers safe, Villinski said. Photos of the
process of transformation cover one
wall of the gallery, and a table in
the front of the gallery has books on
DIY, eco-friendly, temporary housing
and other architecture. Visitors must
leave Sewall and walk towards the
front of Lovett Hall in order to see the
In addition to a $30,000 pho-
tovoltaic system, the new trailer is
built entirely from environmentally
friendly materials: bamboo plywood,
fluorescent lighting, insulation made
from reprocessed denim blue jeans,
a polycarbonate skylight and even a
small — and, admittedly, ineffective
— wind turbine.
Under a transparent floor, 1,300
pounds of batteries store the electric-
Monster trucks, freestylt
motocross and Robosaurus
return to Reliant Stadium to-
morrow night for Monster Jam.
What could possibly be cooler
than cars smashing each other
into twisted heaps of smoking
^gtetkage? Adult tickets run
$tj and gates open at 5530
p.m. Take the light rail to save
WWW MONS Tl R) AM ONLINE. COM
ity the solar panels absorb. Villinski
predicts the total cost of the clearly
expensive materials to be around
$60,000 for the unit, compared to the
$20,000—$22,000 FEMA trailers.
The goal is to raise
awareness and in-
spire more forms of
expression, even in
as basic a way as
providing a place
in which displaced
artists can pursue
He insists that it is only a proto-
type. Many of the materials are not
yet widely available and sometimes
prohibitively expensive. Even the
eco-friendly flaxseed floor tiles are
four dollars apiece, while traditional
linoleum is only about 33 cents. This
aside, the building, transportation
and implementation of a FEMA trailer
can cost upwards of $85,000, which
he says is comparable to the cost of
his modified trailer.
Chances are upon seeing this
souped-up trailer, the immediate re-
action is to question why some up-
scale, white trash family has parked
their mobile home just outside of the
Sallyport. In fact, it's hard to say what
makes it a work of art rather than
just a useful invention other than its
placement at the Rice Gallery.
The problem is that from an ar-
tistic perspective, the Emergency
Response Studio is simply not much
to look at. It is clear that Villinski's
O see GALLERY, page 12
Midnight Madness continues
tonight and tomorrow night
with screenings of The Prin-
cess Bride. Student tickets
run a mere $6.50, which is
cheaper than at the Angeiika,
and the movie starts at iiifj
p.m. Find a buddy with a car
because it's not exactly within
f River Oaks Theatre f
2009 West Gray %
WWW. LANDMARKTHEATRES. ORG
If someone asked me who my fa-
vorite action star was, I'd conjure up
images of Arnold Schwarzenegger
smearing cakes of mud across his
chest in Predator, Bruce Willis walk-
ing barefoot across broken glass in
Die Hard and Keanu Reeves dodging
bullets on a rooftop in The Matrix.
But Liam Neeson? The dude from
Schindler's List and the voice of that
goofy lion from Narnia? No way. Af-
ter watching Taken, however, I was
forced to reconsider.
Starring: Liam Neeson,
Famke Janssen, Maggie
Released: Jan. 30, 2009
Neeson has acted in dramatic
films for the majority of his prolific
career, with brief stints in the action
genre in Batman Begins and Gangs of
New York. His last major foray in an
action movie dates all the way back
to his critically-acclaimed perfor-
mance in Rob Roy, over 13 years ago.
For Neeson, apparently, the wait had
been long enough.
Taken is a purebred action movie,
injected with high adrenaline and
heart-stopping fight sequences from
start to finish. Neeson plays ex-CIA
agent Bryan Mills, whose obsessive
dedication to the job has resulted in
a divorce from his wife, played by
Famke Janssen (X-Men's Jean Grey),
and in an estranged relationship
with his daughter, played by Maggie
Grace ("Lost'"s Shannon). After retir-
ing, Mills decides to spend more time
with his daughter and less time chas-
ing bad guys around the world.
There's just one catch: Sex traf-
fickers abduct Mills' daughter in
Paris and give him only a 90-hour
window in which to find her. In sum-
mary, Neeson spends the remainder
of the film on a rampage throughout
Europe, crushing bones, dislocating
shoulders and beating the crap out of
everyone and everything that stands
in his path.
Taken is reminiscent of classic
action movies of the mid-nineties,
like Face/Off and Terminator 2: Judg-
ment Day, in which plot and charac-
ter development take a backseat to
badassery and pure awesomeness.
One of my biggest pet peeves is when
movies, especially in the action and
horror genres, take themselves too
seriously and attempt to pass them-
selves off as emotional dramas.
People aren't buying tickets to these
movies to have epiphanies or to be in-
spired. They want to be entertained,
dammit! And Taken does exactly that.
It is fast-paced, has a decent enough
plot line and, most importantly, is a
lot of fun.
My only criticism of this mov-
ie is Maggie Grace's performance
as Neeson's supposedly teenage
daughter. Actresses often play roles
much younger than their actual
age. In this case, Grace, 25, is play-
ing a 17-year-old. Somehow, she
infuses her character with such idi-
ocy and immaturity that she comes
off as a severely handicapped fourth
grader rather than an adolescent
on the cusp of adulthood. I actually
felt kind of relieved when the sex
traffickers kidnapped her.
0 see TAKEN, page 12
Liam Neeson's got 90 hours to kill everybody and save his daughter.
Can he do it? Taken attempts to answer this age-old question.
Catch Benjamin Britten's ad-
aptation of Shakespeare's A
Midsummer Night's Dream
at the Houston Grand Opera
during its final two showings
on February 4 and 6. For any-
one who didn't read it in high
school, it's about the comedic
exploits of four couples hi the
woods. Tickets start at $ao.
The Houston Auto Show
also comes to Reliant Park
this weekend. Come see
all the different ways its
is planning to spend their
bailout check over thefoext
year. Adult tickets are $to.
eash only. 8e sure to visit
the Web site for times and
to pflnt your $a admission
i Reliant Park
WWW. HOUSTONAU TOSHOW. ORG
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Chun, Lily & Farmer, Dylan. The Rice Thresher, Vol. 96, No. 18, Ed. 1 Friday, January 30, 2009, newspaper, January 30, 2009; Houston, Texas. (https://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth443157/m1/9/: accessed February 22, 2024), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, https://texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Rice University Woodson Research Center.