Mud and Toys


Jan. 8, 2024 - Feb. 7, 2016

177 North 9th Street
Brooklyn, 11211

PIEROGI is proud to present the work of Michael Ballou as one of two final exhibitions at our Williamsburg location. It seems fitting since Ballou had one of the first exhibitions at PIEROGI when it opened in Williamsburg, Brooklyn in 1994. In February 2016 Pierogi will relocate to Suffolk Street. We will continue to operate The BOILER in its current Williamsburg location.

Michael Ballou’s Mud and Toys exhibition will include a number of objects placed on the floor, suspended from the ceiling, and hanging from the walls. This work is visually informed by, among other things, Ballou’s daily travels around his Brooklyn neighborhood, watching old buildings in the process of renovation and new behemoths rising quickly up out of the dirt and cement. Some of the older structures sport original stucco surfacing and in one particular renovation the old stucco style was refreshed, in the process a window was covered over but the awning was left suspended over a blank wall. The starting point for the objects in this exhibition were toys that Ballou’s dog Whiskey gnawed on for a time, which Ballou used as a base, adding wire, mud, and other elements. These objects are neither surreal nor ironic; Ballou refers to them as ‘brute.’ As William Corwin has noted,


Michael Ballou distrusts traditional art world classifications. His work is practical art; it follows his frank, literal, and can-do attitude of the Midwest, though often at the core of that onion is an idea so fleeting and spontaneous that a long contorted story involving a cast of dozens is the only explanation. Looking back over an oeuvre that would have confounded Carl Linnaeus, but would have pleased Charles Darwin, one could realistically break down much of Ballou’s work into such subheadings as “Puppet Shows,” “Weather Vanes,” “Miniature Versions of Things,” “Projections,” and “Animal Heads.” Alternately, these classifications could be translated into even more accurate representations of Ballou’s work: “summoning of spirits,” “divination,” “ancient Egyptian tomb furniture (you can take it with you),” “prophetic vision (similar but different from divination),” and “hecatombs.” (William Corwin, BOMB Magazine)

Michael Ballou is a multi-media artist working in film, sculpture, installation, and performance, including many collaborative endeavors. His work has been exhibited in New York, Los Angeles, and Boston, as well as internationally, in Berlin, Rome, Brussels, London, and Paris. He work was featured in the Brooklyn Museum’s “Raw/Cooked” series and was included in recent exhibitions at the Kunstbunker (Nuremberg, Germany), and the Kienzle Art Foundation (Berlin, Germany), among others. He is a recipient of the Hamburg Guest Studio grant in Germany. He has lived and worked in Brooklyn, New York since the mid-1980s.

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