OH, OH, OH, I'M LIGHTNING!
Alexander Hill’s work in “Oh, Oh, Oh, I’m Lightning!” alludes to the performance of overlooked everyday objects through manipulation, scene recreation, and assemblage. The installation reflects a performance where the objects dance and respond to each other. The Performer holds down the main wall calling forth its companions through its rich light emitting from the silhouette of the cowboy singer. Its recorder flute playing fire extinguisher counterpart, Soprano, responds in this playful and unexpected way of belonging, by having a recorder attached to its arm. Whereas “The Regulator” a constructed blue Igloo cooler, takes a bold stand on the ground, decorated with metal spikes, and embracing its DIY punk aesthetics.
Hill locates the ones in a state of rest, low and subtly placed on the floor and hanging high in front of a window. The unseen shoe box wearing a black sleeping mask floats above in silence. R and R, Leave of Absence, Day of Rest, a magazine page with a cold glass a beer slumps against the corner, where the wall and the floor intersects, like a body leaning on a wall or sitting on the floor, enjoying a ritualistic time of rest. Hill’s work embraces the magic of the mundane, and through these objects enacts a personal everyday necessity. It is through their quotidian existence that they perform for their viewer, leaving an insight to the routine of the owner’s.
IN THE MARGINS
Naomi Nadreau’s work in “In the Margins” offers a sense of hope for the future. A future comprised of scrap materials from some upcoming, or possibly currently devolving, collapse of our existing environment. The installation glows with an ambient pink hue of grow lights signaling a movement forward towards a world where science, the aesthetics of technology, and natural matter coexist in harmony. In “Untitled (Negative of a Future),” sheets of white plaster are sculpted and embossed from a collection of found objects leaving a fossil-like collage of unrecognizable symbols. In “Infinite Sequences of Arrival,” the black wall mounted sculpture expands out of the surface with a metal, rounded shell, perhaps a remnant of armor, glowing from the inside. The installation of these two sculptures sits in balance. A balance of black and white, of warm light and cool metal, a balance of “Negative” and “Infinite.” While the future Nadreau creates has been through some apocalyptic nightmare, it perpetually re-grows with balance, ingenuity, and survival.
The night before visiting Stacey Alexander's Frequency: Constant at Blowing in the Wind, I was scrolling through my Twitter feed and came across a thread assaulting a young woman who had participated in a TikTok challenge. "The person starts the video off with a smooth Paul Anka song before transitioning into "Streets" by Doja Cat. They then strip down and strike different poses to show their curves' silhouette with the red filter's help" (1). I began thinking about communication and new information delivery methods via the internet vs. archaic and traditional ones. Frequency modulation provides the ability to send information via wavelengths at lightspeed: a new communication method still in development. (2) There's an immediate meditative quality to the installation because of the artwork's placement and its accompanying components. The objects, drawings, lights, projector, cords, and tools seem to hint at the golden ratio. Everything appears suspended in a cryptic ballet on a perpetual loop, similar to GIFs' function. The small-scale sculpture's delicate movement above the entrance door, Nap More, 2021, consists of Alexander's signature post-its drawings wrinkled into what appear to create colorful star-shaped doodles. Violets, cyans, canary yellow, and magenta-colored post-its attached to a string, intermittently dyed, hang from a circular, thin piece of bamboo. These hanging notes contain words, such as effort-less, miscellaneous squiggly drawings, and colored marks. During my visit, the sunlight had caused an inadvertent shadow on the left wall, grounding the object in space. On the wall underneath the hanging sculpture was a moderate-sized drawing/painting titled Kamala Won't be the Last, 2021. Trompe-l'oeil style paintings of torn masking tape varying from half-inch to one and a half-inch placed in a composition recalling the action from the blast of a Party Popper toy. Within this bottom-heavy composition, three saturated yellow post-its with words and playful images parallel the sculpture's ones. The vertical diptych is stapled directly to the wall; the top piece is offset enough to create a visual balance connecting the wall and the artwork. There's undivided attention given to these objects that are often used and thrown away without considering their worth. Flanking the right side of the drawing is Plumbers are for Suckers, 2021; a projection of dripping water from a faulty faucet, complete with a live soundtrack that includes the gentle snoring of a dog in the background. Every time a new visitor enters the space, the artist tears a piece of masking tape and places it on the projected water drop disturbing the boundaries between the digital and physical realm. I unconsciously leaned over to stop the droplet of water with my hand, similar to how I often try to enlarge a physical photo with my two fingers to zoom in, forgetting that the physical realm doesn't work like an iPhone. Stacey and I spoke about America's problem with "band-aid solutions"; how we prop up systematic failure with half-baked solutions that keep us on the brink of collapse. Stacey skillfully layers her works with content that spans the current political climate, art processes, technology/social media, and art history. Both titles and works hint at Stacey's position on socio-political issues, but the latter remain in limbo, and, to quote Ed Ruscha as he referred to Duchamp: "it sort of says everything and says nothing at the same time." (3)
(1) Rodriguez, Karla. “What Is the Silhouette Challenge? A Breakdown of TikTok's Provocative and Dangerous Viral Trend.” Complex, Complex, 5 Feb. 2021, www.complex.com/pop-culture/ silhouette-challenge-explained/.
(2) MIT. “How Information Travels Wirelessly.” YouTube video, 07:55. March 09, 2012. https://youtu.be/Ax7dYaRiY6o Rodriguez.
(3) Ed Rusha speaking about “With Hidden Noise.” LACMA. “Ed Ruscha on Marcel Duchamp | Artists on Art.” YouTube video, 02:28. June 13, 2017. https://youtu.be/vT3KtYVOhUA MIT
I step into Blowing in the Wind, snuggled between shop windows Les Sisters’ and Chatsworth Heritage. I see two works immediately. It’s not until I ask where the last piece is that Garen points up and I see it on the ceiling. A beautiful assemblage of hydrangea petals and beeswax. We talk about his work and process. The context of the work unfolds further as I listen to him talk. Conversations about Armenia, consumerism, and bringing the world in. Inviting the world in.
What does that look like? Anahit, a box constructed from flower petals and stitched together on top, sits delicately on a plastic packaging envelope, or as it’s titled, Fear of God Essentials packaging. It is a standard packaging material, but drastically changes the context of the work. It naturally invites associations to the outside world - capitalism, materialism, consumerism, all the isms! It draws me in to my childhood and the toys that filled it. On the packaging, it reads “this is not a toy!” At once, I view Anahit as toy-like. I almost expect a jack-in-the-box toy to pop out.
The Power of Ritual also draws me back to my childhood. These minuscule tiles that line the corner of the floor remind me of pool tiles and the mermaid games I would play in the water. I reminisce about this to Garen. His works do not shy away from obscure scale and placement. I don’t notice it until Garen points it out to me. I have to crouch down to get a good look at The Power of Ritual. A ritual of repetition, place, and scale.
Staring at the stars while the bombs kept falling sits serenely on the ceiling, mirroring my curiosity. It recreates the shape of a hole in a building made by a bomb during the Armenian-Azerbaijani war. Without talking to Garen and learning the source of the sculpture, it looks like a black, starry sky. Something beautiful and serene, not menacing and razed. Perhaps it’s both.
Decayed wall off of Kingsley Dr, VIII (for Jack Whitten) is the most immediately visible artwork when walking in. I can see the many layers within the paper. I notice this one first and choose to write about it last. Amidst black and gray charcoal, a pop of color inhibits the left side of the paper. An energetic crackle keeps my eyes roving over the image. Like trees after a forest fire, the outer layer makes way for new life.
Each of the pieces is seemingly fragile. They could fall, melt, or crumble effortlessly but they do not. They are meticulous vestiges of events and people, left to bloom into their own existence. Messily.
Gioy De Marco © 2020