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Two Weeks/Two Works: Grier Edmundson

Fourteen30 Contemporary

 

By Daniel J Glendening

The final episode of Fourteen30 Contemporary’s four-exhibition series, Two Weeks/Two Works, features the work of Grier Edmundson: an oil on canvas diptych, “Hans Blix and Pink Mittens,” from 2006, hung on a wall papered with screen printed newsprint, “Optimum Expansion (After Iain and Ingrid).” “Hans Blix and Pink Mittens” is just that: two paintings, one 48″ x 48″ depicting a pair of nearly red gloves on a white ground, hands crossed at the wrist right over left, the other a small 10.5″ x 7.5″ portrait of an aging man, presumably the titular Hans Blix, a Swedish politician. Both works evidence sketchy, rough brushwork which leaves the bulk of the canvas un-painted, but that focuses in on some detail: the rim of Hans’ glasses, or the line of his nose. The question of the significance of Blix as a subject is ultimately left unclear—he is a diplomat and politician, who has worked over the course of his life for responsible atomic energy and in 2003 served as a monitor of Iraqi nuclear technologies for the United Nations. This put him, ultimately, at odds with the US and British Governments, who he claimed were greatly exaggerating the threat of nuclear proliferation in Iraq. “Optimum Expansion (After Iain and Ingrid)” is titled (I think, after some cursory research) after Iain and Ingrid Baxter, founders of the 1967-78 Canadian art collective N.E. Thing; visually, the work is kaleidoscopic: an image of branching trees cropped into a diamond and repeated ad infinitum over the surface of the wall, the paper buckling here and there, the seams not quite aligned.

“Two Weeks/Two Works: Grier Edmundson” Exhibition view. Photo courtesy Fourteen30 Contemporary

“Two Weeks/Two Works: Grier Edmundson” Exhibition view. Photo courtesy Fourteen30 Contemporary

All of these little clues—one would expect them to add up to something, maybe, but they don’t—or, at least, whatever that thing is remains invisible. An unfinished painting isn’t really unfinished; it simply wants the viewer to think about unfinishedness. And a wallpaper of screen-prints on newsprint isn’t really wallpaper; it just wants the viewer to consider the possibility of wallpaper, of wallpaperness. People talk about provisional painting—painting that tosses aside craft and quote-unquote talent in favor of something rougher, cruder or less quote-unquote finished. If there is a provisional painting, and a painting is a body, is there a provisional body: a body that is half-formed or that exists in the interstices, that takes on a split or fragmented life across varied surfaces and spaces? The suggestion of a body and a space is enough to bring that body and space fully formed into the world—it’s an idea inscribed on its self. I’d say we’re all provisional bodies: we’re all forming and reforming all of the time as we experience new stimuli, as our cells age and reform, as we spread personae out over varied social and professional groups, web profiles and identities. We’re all becoming, all of the time.

Google Image Search 2013-4-11 5:31:07 PM: "provisional painting"

Google Image Search 2013-4-11 5:31:07 PM: “provisional painting”

Google Image Search, 2013-04-11, 5:33:45 PM: "provisional body"

Google Image Search, 2013-04-11, 5:33:45 PM: “provisional body”

 

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Two Weeks/Two Works: Andrea Longacre-White

Fourteen30 Contemporary

 

By Daniel J Glendening

The third installment of Fourteen30’s Two Weeks/Two Works all but eliminates the loose hand and physical body of previous installments in favor of the digital. Andrea Longacre-White‘s pairing features “8/127″—a sculptural scatter-art nod composed of what appear to be several plaster casts of Apple iPads and pieces of silver Aluma-foil cut in the shape of iPad screens—and the framed digital print “Pad Scan (gallery cinder block wall)”—an abstracted image of a scan of an iPad while said device displays a photographic image. There’s something funereal to the work, and to the relationship between the pieces—something in the vein of ashes to ashes, etc to etc. The plaster and Aluma-foil work a sort of carcass—a scattering of bones, the plaster forms just barely recognizable as something we know, something that is, or was, an early step towards a cyborgian world. “Pad Scan” serves, then, as a pixilated placard, a designation of what was and what now lies at our feet, trod upon. This is the eye looking in upon itself, showing us something we can’t quite recognize.

There’s a feedback loop built into the relationship between the pieces, one leads to the other leads to the other. We have so many screens we don’t know where to look, and we scan the horizons with an electronic eye. Does it imply something that with this installment we’ve not only shed the body of the flesh—the muscle and blood of Ruiz, the dirt and sweat of Hutchins—and traded it for screens and self-referential digital eyes, but that we’ve also shed color? Grey and white and black and silver: everything reflecting or drawing in. Is Apple a new brutalism? A design aesthetic of oppression, forcing its silhouettes into human consciousness and lodging there? It’s ubiquitous: the round-cornered rectangle, the screen a prosthetic enabling fingertips to reach into the digital world. These scattered casts and surfaces are our bodies, our flesh, our bones.

"Two Weeks/Two Works: Andrea Longacre-White" Exhibition view. Photo courtesy Fourteen30 Contemporary

“Two Weeks/Two Works: Andrea Longacre-White” Exhibition view. Photo courtesy Fourteen30 Contemporary

Two Weeks/Two Works: Jessica Jackson Hutchins

Fourteen30 Contemporary

 

By Daniel J Glendening

The second installment of Fourteen30’s Two Weeks/Two Works series features “Cursive,” 2012, and “Daily Sickness,” 1999, from Jessica Jackson Hutchins. “Cursive” is a 63″ x 49″ work composed of burlap, the stretched brown surface mottled and stained with blue-green pigment and streaks of deep umber. Woven through the burlap in primarily horizontal bands are five strips of cloth in various colors, some of which retain markers of their previous form as clothing: a sleeve hem in a brown and white floral pattern; a pink, white and green strip of child’s swimming suit. Across the bottom is a band of synthetic ivy leaves and vines, a creeping plastic rhizome. There’s something to “Cursive” that offers a shifting perspective: one moment a landscape, the ivy and brown toned cloth offering up a horizon line as cloth-clouds populate a blue tinged sky, then a perspective from above, torn and lost garments strewn across a dirty ground, and, in both, an implied yet not fully formed body. There is an absence, a lack, the figure/ground equation left off balance and unfulfilled, and something or someone is missing or, perhaps as implied by the work’s title, running.

The counterpart to “Cursive” here is “Daily Sickness“, a 9″ x 12″ collaged work on paper: a small thumbnail-sized smear of yellow ochre oil paint bleeds out, forming an arc of golden halo, into a small white piece of paper taped to a yellowing sketchbook page. Here there is a malady of mind or body that is as sure as the rising sun: a ritual of age, a ritual of struggle. Between the completion of “Daily Sickness” and “Cursive” is a span of thirteen years, the former dated 1999: precursor to the new millennium, the anxieties of social media, and the ubiquitous conversation about the speed of change. This is, perhaps, not a rising sun but a setting sun, a shedding of old habits and doubts in hopes of something new. The implied body becomes a temporal body: rather than the body of sweat and fluid and mass present in Ruiz’ installment we have here a body unbound, shedding—moving through time unfettered, running.

 

"Two Weeks/Two Works: Jessica Jackson Hutchins" Exhibition view, photo courtesy Fourteen30 Contemporary

“Two Weeks/Two Works: Jessica Jackson Hutchins” Exhibition view, photo courtesy Fourteen30 Contemporary

Two Weeks/Two Works: Conrad Ruiz

Fourteen30 Contemporary

By Daniel J Glendening

Two Weeks/Two Works, at Fourteen30 Contemporary, is an experiment in exhibition: a suite of four two-week exhibits, each featuring two works by a single artist (Conrad Ruiz, Jessica Jackson Hutchins, Andrea Longacre-White, Grier Edmundson). One stated intention in limiting the exhibitions to two works each is to allow space to move around the work, physically and psychologically. Pairing two works has other effects, as well–two pieces are brought into direct conversation with one another: a back and forth that invites comparison, debate and dialogue. It seems that one can expect each to be an exhibition in and of itself, a highly focused glimpse into the work of each artist. There may (or may not) also be the slow emergence of a dialogue of between works across exhibitions–each a small piece of a larger whole, or an episode in a gradually developing miniseries.

The pilot episode of Two Weeks/Two Works features two works by Conrad Ruiz: “Nova,” a 24″ x 19″ watercolor and oil on paper grey-scale painting of a tightly muscled male torso, as the subject peels off a shirt and clutches in one hand what appear to be, perhaps, cycling goggles, and “Punch Monster,” a 53″ x 35″ watercolor on canvas piece depicting an abstracted field of spare, intricate marks that generate what appears to be the surface of red liquid–water under red light, a bloodied sea or, perhaps more to the point, red punch flavored Monster energy drink. There’s a strong dichotomy of difference between the works: just as the virile masculine body is drained of color and, by extension, vitality, it is also rendered in such a way as to flatten the body, the man’s pectorals an almost geometric form, while the abstraction-leaning “Punch Monster” is pumped up into high contrast hypercolor–a color field that moves and ripples. The body becomes inert, isolated, while this other thing that fuels us, that we can see but not quite see, that we can grasp but not quite grasp, radiates.

Conrad Ruiz, "Punch Monster" 2012, Watercolor on canvas. 53 x 35 inches. Image courtesy Jessica Silverman Gallery

Conrad Ruiz, “Punch Monster” 2012, Watercolor on canvas. 53 x 35 inches. Image courtesy Jessica Silverman Gallery.

Jared Haug and Brooks Dierdorff, Window Smokers

Recess Gallery

 

By Rebecca Steele

 

All I could do was to break the whole thing down and show that it is no longer possible.  -Gerhard Richter

 

Jared Haug and Brooks Dierdorff, "Window Smokers." Photograph by Rebecca Steele.

Jared Haug and Brooks Dierdorff, “Window Smokers.” Photograph by Rebecca Steele.

An evolving methodology in contemporary art might be the trend of using one medium to critique the failure or relevance of another. When sculpture relies on photography for its language or successes, then we can conclude a failure of the singularity of media. This also serves as critique of the set of circumstances that allowed for certain types of work to exist as singularities. This new methodology could be called one of alignments, such that neon lights frame a photograph only to obscure it. In the exhibition, Window Smokers, the artists, Jared Haug and Brooks Dierdorff, fabricate the evidences of a panoramic view of terrain and possible altercations of landscape by insinuating the punctuation of one medium by another. This strategy could be described as contrapuntal and adheres to certain ideas invoked by the artist Gerhard Richter, who approached the act of painting a landscape as not an act of representation but as looking at what is to be represented through a glass darkly. It is arguable that this has become in and of itself a strategy. To lift the lid of the scanner in the moment of scan in order to create a photograph by act and action, and then to speak about the form within this photograph as being related in some way to a melting iceberg, is both contrapuntal and darkly meditative. Rather than speaking about the ability of light, through gestural manipulation, to create an angular form that slowly leaks its cause, the act is used to create a representation of the act.

Window Smokers often suggests light and its physical traces, capable of interruption and usurpation. Five framed digital prints are titled according to the actions that created them: “Held Steady,” “Slight Rise,” “Continuous Rise and Fall,” “Rise and Fall, Rise and Fall,” and “Held Steady, Then Lifted.” These images are high contrast abstract compositions that are punctuated by bits of color and graded lines. “Haug and Dierdorff search for nature and representation where the unenclosed can be depicted in its disappearance.” The digital prints made by lifting the lid of a scanner create abstract “photographs” that use light in its burn and retreat as a set of tight compositional constraints. The Photograph is used elsewhere as a representative of or dummy landscape as in “Organizing Principles” or “Late Season Tactics.”

"Transfer," from Jared Haug and Brooks Dierdorff, "Window Smokers."

“Transfer,” from Jared Haug and Brooks Dierdorff, “Window Smokers.” Photograph by Rebecca Steele.

There are times when works of art seem to conspire against the viewer through tense aesthetics and closure. In Window Smokers the artist’s aesthetic language is dexterous and full of material alignments. The works “Transfer” and “Merger” are photograms, evidencing an image created through the trace or positional affectation of a natural element on to a two dimensional surface. “Merger” was created by ice melting and moving food coloring across a sheet of paper—in its rusty streaks it is possible to find the remnants of a thing’s end: winter, ice, light. In the case of “Transfer” fake leaves sit in front of construction paper faded in the area not blocked by the leaves. This is also the case with a series of works in the main gallery space: “Red Heat Tremors 1-7,” “No Mercy Traveling North 1-5,” “Summer Nights Land of Doom 1-3,” and “Vertical Limit Under the Volcano.” These works are landscapes made on light-faded construction paper and though simple create a feeling of the elegiac beauty found in faded photographs of evening landscapes, of night vision palette, paper cut collage, or Luc Tuymans Allo Social Housing. The ambiguity and dexterity of these works is disorienting and, though small in scale, suggest the degrading effects of light and sight—or possibly that the landscape itself is the source of degradation, not of culture or moralities but of being and representation.

"Late Season Tactics," from Jared Haug and Brooks Dierdorff, "Window Smokers." Photograph by Rebecca Steele.

“Late Season Tactics,” from Jared Haug and Brooks Dierdorff, “Window Smokers.” Photograph by Rebecca Steele.

In “Twitch” and “Organizing Principles” traction, implied opening, interruption, and the kill are physical maneuvers in time and space where the integrity of one physical body is interrupted by the integrity of another physical body. A block of ballistics gel sits on top of a pedestal and holds a photograph against the wall in “Organizing Principles,” and presents a formally satisfying arrangement. Sculpturally, “Organizing Principles” employs the dynamics and materials of hunting. The ballistics gel that holds the hide (photograph) to the wall looks slightly oily and resembles cast acrylic; the photograph seems to be of animal hair that looks blond, sharp, and damp. The video “Twitch” depicts a deer that has been shot and lies barely twitching in a field of grass. The projector and a thick slab of acrylic, serving as projection screen, lie on the floor and cast a greenish glow in the space. The video is very still, and viewed through the thickness of the acrylic is blurry, suggestive rather than intelligible. The strategies of these two works find their fullest realization in “Late Season Tactics,” in which a large piece of smoked acrylic pierces and folds a digital image of an organ (possibly a heart or liver?) laying on the grass. There is something simple, elegant, and intriguing about this situation. “Late Season Tactics” suggests a forever of open possibilities born of contradictions, and two flat surfaces that provoke a narrative through interruption.

Gerhard Richter has made the claim that to degrade something is to get at its truth, and so contradictions of material and media can be their own narrative and solution. In Window Smokers, the landscape is subjected to and created by physical change. It is this interruption or alteration—in the form of an organ on the grass, of ice or light on paper—that demonstrates the human temporal and the natural as unresolving change.

Daniel Baird, This New Ocean

Appendix Project Space

 

By Daniel J Glendening

At the rear corner of Daniel Baird‘s exhibition, This New Ocean, at Appendix Project Space, is a slowly turning object. It is small, about hand-sized, and is held just a hair’s breadth off of the ground. It would be easy to miss, but motion grabs the eye.

From Daniel Baird, “This New Ocean.” Image courtesy the artist and Appendix Project Space.

 

It appears to be a rock, painted silver. It turns on a vertical axis rising up out of the concrete floor from some unseen buried motor. The rock is sort of wedge shaped, rough contoured, pointed. It could be used as a weapon, or a path marker pointing the way. It could be cast aside—it is, after all, a rock.

It turns, clockwise. It could be pointing to the hour, the minutes, seconds, of some unmarked clock. It is an arrow, after all, but a rock, also. It turns, slowly but visibly—maybe about the rate of a second hand revolving around the face of a clock, marking the passage of time, on and on, relentless. There are no numbers on this clock face—indeed there is no face of the clock, only grey painted concrete floor, but still we know what it is.

This is a rock, and a clock, and time is moving onward, no matter what. We can see it, here, passing: one revolution, two revolutions, three revolutions.

But it is a rock and it is not a rock. It’s silver, and rocks are not silver (unless, in fact, they are silver, but this is a rock). Its surface is marked by not just rough angles and broken edges, but some regular striation, as if we could see here the layers of sedimentary earth made small—millimeters of sediment: millimeters of layered time—but this rock is not a sedimentary rock, it lacks the planar regularity of sandstone or shale and carries the broken and chipped hardness of flint, or granite or—I only know my rocks so well.

So, this is a rock and also is not a rock—it’s maybe a replicated rock—though I don’t know for sure—how can one know for sure without some unavailable knowledge? It is a rock and not a rock: it turns about a vertical axis, it is silver, its surface marked by thin thin striations of layered material formed, perhaps, by lasers and resins and 3-D printing technology. This is a fabricated rock, ejected from the smooth and fluid digital sphere into the physical world, bringing with it the layers of its digital past and butting up against a world marked by, above all things, time.

Time moves, always.

We say that maybe we can escape time, maybe we can turn back time, maybe we can bend time through the manipulation of physics we don’t yet understand and maybe we can rewrite time and come to understand time as not simply a line on a page that never ends but as a continuously folding over space that is knotted up and porous like a sponge. We, though, get old.

We die.

Does the earth die?

Does data die?

Geologic time moves at a rate we can’t see except in small punctuating bursts when something suddenly gives way, when the forces of age and change sudden pierce through and shake the surface or the tension suddenly ejaculates a flood of magma, smoke and stone.

Otherwise, we only see the evidence—hills painted with bands of color: lake sediment and ash, the mulch of leaves and fallen forests. We see mountains slowly crumbling, the cleavage of stone by ice, the carved path of a river through the desert. We see sand dunes shifting and we see where water once was and now is not, where water was not and now is. We age, our hair grays and our faces crease and we die.

Does data age? Does a stream of digits that codes for the shape of a stone for rendering in a three-dimensional modeling program replace itself over and over through time? Does it make mistakes and replicate those mistakes? Does it accidentally develop a wrinkle, or a cancer? Does time exist, there?

This is just a rock on the floor, slowly turning. This is just a relic, a piece of evidence—the ejection, the erosion, the subduction. Everything old will be destroyed, and reborn.

This is just a rock on the floor, ticking off the seconds, one by one.

MSHR, “Earthly Door”

MSHR, Earthly Door.

Appendix Project Space

by Daniel J Glendening

MSHR, a collaborative project by Brenna Murphy and Birch Cooper, presented “Earthly Door” at Appendix Project Space in Portland, Oregon. The work consists of an interactive installation and a performance. As an installation, “Earthly Door” resembles a found-object architectural model of a disco-rustic beach house, complete with conversation pit. The surfaces are all wood and mirror, with carefully arranged seashells and rocks, and a black vase holding one sprig of dried sage.

Electrical wire is intermixed with chunks of subtly carved driftwood—wire wrapped around branches and stones, buried in loose sand. A glass bowl bubbles, brewing fog, and a low drone emanates from a pair of speakers against the back wall of the gallery. The room lowly vibrates.

MSHR, “Earthly Door”

Preceding the June 28 performance, the artists spent time with the audience, inviting them to interact with the installation. Murphy, smiling, served as a guide: she picked up a pair of cycling gloves wired into a mirrored box and helped a visitor put them on. He began moving his hands in the air and high-pitched tones emanated from the machine. Murphy guided two women to a pair of metal trays joined by a wire. She advised them to remove their shoes, stand on each tray, and hold hands. The machine squealed; lights flickered.

Murphy and Cooper left the room as the sun set, and “Earthly Door” shifted from a space of collaborative interaction to a site of ritualized performance.

The duo returned moments later in black sunglasses, Murphy having changed into a costume of black body suit and a custom leather utility belt. At the rear of the gallery, Murphy and Cooper executed a set of mirrored movements clutching a conch shell between them. Cooper blew a series of notes on the shell and relayed them through an echoing set of effects. Murphy, executing a series of slow, awkward movements, made her way to the recessed space at the center of the installation. She donned the pair of sonic cycling gloves, coaxing sound out of a series of poses somewhere between tai chi and voguing.

MSHR, “Earthly Door”

The performance concluded with a mirroring of its introductory movement: Murphy and Cooper took up position at the front of the installation, standing barefooted on the metal trays. They touched hands to faces, hand to hands. The sound and light faded as their touches lightened, and the performers took their leave.

“Earthly Door” contains a multitude of binary relationships, and is strongest when those relationships begin to break down: the duality of gendered bodies, of audience and performer, the technological and organic, hard and soft surfaces and the nostalgia that is embedded in the aesthetic of retro-futurism. Allowing audience interaction and play, the artists invite users to incorporate themselves into the work and complete a circuit with their bodies. Everyone, here, is a conduit: the artists a conduit of information, the audience members as conduits of energy.

However, as Murphy and Cooper transition from roles as guides to those of techno-tronic performers, eyes hidden behind black sunglasses, the audience is from the work. The sequence of movements executed by MSHR hovers between dance and ritual, and remains enigmatic and opaque—it is a fledgling ritual, not yet fully imbued with meaning. While an intimacy lingers in their movements—hands on faces, hands on hands—audience access is largely predicated on having experienced the work through earlier bodily interaction.

MSHR, “Earthly Door”

MSHR’s “Earthly Door” may have too many edges, too many facets competing with each other for attention. The retro-futurist aesthetic, for instance, serves as a lure while simultaneously recalling a cultural history that never was. The physical installation’s function as performance set potentially trumps its role as an interactive environment, as the audience ceases interaction and shifts into spectatorship. Stepping in as performers, MSHR resets the power dynamic to a hierarchical state.

This shift undermines what seems to be the aim of the work, and evidences that maybe one can’t have some things both ways. In our screen-bound era, it’s refreshing for the audience to suddenly become, of its own accord and with only minimal guidance, performer, entwining their own bodies with this techno-organic musical cyborg machine.