Maximum Overdrive, UTD's New Exhibit, Was Inspired By the Only Movie Stephen King Made

Categories: Visual Art

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Named for Stephen King's 1986 film, Maximum Overdrive the exhibition, which opens today at UT Dallas, picks up where the apocalyptic survival movie leaves off, with humor, gore and machismo. The movie is a cult classic for its depiction of electronic devices taking over the world, accompanied by a totally rad AC/DC soundtrack. Here it's curator Kevin Todora who's taking over, with help from all of his closest artist friends.

"I profess that if the apocalypse were upon us and I was trapped in a truck-stop in North Carolina, these are the people I would like to be stuck with," he says.

The parallels between King and Todora extend beyond the film's influence. Todora is an artist and photographer first; this is his first go at curating solo, just as Overdrive was King's only directorial attempt, and earlier this year was Todora's first attempt period, at the Reading Room, which he co-curated with Danielle Avram.

Conceptualizing the event since last year, he described the selection process for the exhibiting artists as "the people I've worked with, gone to school with or just people whose work I really am excited about." Exhibiting at a university can allow for more experimentation, he says. "This could be a chance for an artist to show work that they might not show in an established commercial gallery."

The show's line-up is a solid collection of artists in Dallas working on progressive and important work, which should make for a great opportunity to view a challenging collage of local artists. It includes BLK JPG, John Dickinson, Thomas Feulmer, Nathan Green, Kevin Rubén Jacobs, M, Kerry Pacillio, Gregory Ruppe and Bret Slater. It's described, vaguely, as a "glass-breaking, blood-spattering, flame-spurting melee."

Todora says his thought process in planning the show resembled a "Robert Zemeckis movie, like 'Forrest Gump,' but without the soundtrack. I just talked to everyone and gave them vague descriptions of the show. I didn't want to really direct them too much."
Maximum Overdrive -- the movie -- was given to each artist, without the explicit intent that their work needed to be directly influenced.

"It's kind of a dumb movie but a guilty pleasure," Todora says. "I didn't want a dumb show, but I did want to borrow the humor. I didn't want the show to be too serious or theoretical."

He does, however, want it to be his last for a while as curator. With upcoming shows of his own, including one at the Dallas Contemporary in the fall, he doesn't foresee taking another curating position soon.

"Curating takes time and I don't have much," he says. "I'm not trying to change the Dallas art scene. I'm just really just excited to see all of these people in the same room. "

The exhibit opens today at the UTD art studio and runs through April 27. Todora says he will be bringing local beer, snacks, special guests and surprises.


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