Bobbi Woods, Warm for Your Form.
by Daniel J Glendening
“You look like you’ve seen a ghost.”
Once you’ve seen them, it becomes difficult to un-see them.
Bobbi Woods’ Warm for Your Form, at Fourteen30 Contemporary, includes a looped video containing text in white on a black screen. The piece, “California Light (Some Like It Hot),” 2011, includes that line, tucked in among a script that sits somewhere between directorial notes and cut-up poem: “deep space / Palm trees / strong shadows / INSERT – CLOSEUP / I have no sense of proportions. / there’s something about you…” Woods’ text operates with multiple functions. It is at once a text-based interpretation or analysis of a lost film, recalling some vanished piece of history, and a Burroughs-via-Hollywood-Boulevard narrative, alluding directly to e.e. cumming’s “Now Does Our World Descend”: “If it’s all the same, / it’s time you unbecame.”
What’s sticking, though, is that line about the ghost.
The bulk of the exhibition is comprised of poster works, paintings on Hollywood adverts. “In the Mood,” 2011, is composed of a framed folded poster for the film of the same title, creases quartering its blue-violet gradient. It’s all atmosphere, color and space with the dust of use.
There are five iterations of “Warm For Your Form,” 2012, painted silver enamel on poster paper, hung simply without frames. The surface of the poster paper is almost entirely obscured by silver enamel. In something of a break from past work, streaks, handprints, and the swiping of fingers across the still-tacky paint mar the paintings’ slick surfaces. Looking closely, the text and imagery of the poster is just barely visible through the enamel—they are film posters for the critically derided 2007 comedy, “The Brothers Solomon”—but the text and imagery is reversed.
The paintings are mirrors—worn and weathered, their silver backing flaking and water-damaged—reflecting in their haze a somewhat inconsequential advert that, in the end, is only substrate, a surface to be manipulated. They reflect light and motion in the room, but imprecisely, fogged over with breath or steam. They are streaked with fingerprints, handprints; the traces of some unseen entity: an invisible being, a ghost—something trapped behind the surface clawing for escape.
There are other ghosts here too: specters of history. All around are remnants of a California dream in the cast-off detritus of failed films, in the video without actors, sets, or sound. “California Light (Some Like It Hot),” through its title, alludes to that sun soaked Hollywood of yesteryear: of palm trees and ’57 Cadillacs with teal paintjobs. It hints at the haunted hotel that served as a shooting location for Marilyn Monroe’s film, and towards a different Los Angeles, the L.A. occupied by the group of artists making their home in the city in the early 1960s and who came to be loosely affiliated with the California Light and Space movement.
With “Warm For Your Form” we get surfaces with the potential for capturing the sheen of light and reflectivity of a John McCracken slab or a Helen Pashgian sphere, but interrupted with the hand—the physicality of the body—and held by a thin paper substrate that warps and curls slightly on the wall. Something of the expressionist painter creeps in to an otherwise phenomenological object—the libidinal body smeared across the minimalist plane.
Certain occultists, in a practice known as scrying, utilize a mirror to commune with spirits or divine the future.
Turn out the lights, stand in front of the bathroom mirror, and call her name three times.