“Traces and Accumulations” is a group exhibition featuring work by artists who practice rigorous processes of repeated mark making and layering of minimal gestures. Transparency carries throughout the work. In this case, transparency takes on multiple meanings; the translucency of layered photographic images; the honesty of hand drawn lines, woven fabric or hand-shaped clay; the shadows cast by metal rings.
Above the threshold between the two gallery rooms hangs a small vellum screen with work by Christine M. Peterson. “Carry and Lay” is comprised of 162 slide images that are being projected from two different slide carrousels that are running simultaneously and intermittently, layering images one on top of the other. The slides were procured from the deaccessioned slide archive of UC Berkeley where Peterson selected historical images of architecture and religious artworks in direct response to the location of the gallery, which was once a Masonic Temple. The images switch on and off, on top of one another and the subtle illuminated layers begin to create abstract compositions which carry new meanings. The screen is located high overhead, which forces the viewer to look up in a gaze of revelation. Their original intention as historical documentation which has then been re-appropriated for new representation, in response to a re-appropriated location creates a meta-dialog that is inaudible and at once a mysteriously profound worship of the past in real time.
David Fought’s installation nearby is equally subtle and we are able to address the work directly above and below eye-level with trepidation and awe. “Wall Circles I” is simple: two metal rings are literally embedded into the wall and held on by “repairing” where the wall was cut to insert them, creating a seamless attachment. The rings are delicate, yet made of rugged, substantial wire that holds the perfectly circular shape away from the wall so that shadows are cast underneath and to the sides, in varying shades of gray. The levitation of the rings and the soft shadows are direct, yet quiet renditions of tension and impermanence. Although the pieces are lit for gallery view, it is obvious that when the lights go out, the rings remain but the shadows disappear or alter depending on natural light coming in like reminders of life cycles. The work has a distinct poetry – the corporeality of bones and fleeting youth, the phases of the moon or the cracks of dawn.
Throughout the exhibition are other detailed and exceptionally made works. Nathan Lynch’s sculptures are almost life-size abstractions that allude to the body and to architecture. The colorful and industrious assemblages are piles of painted, carved wood sticks, or mounds of organically shaped clay. These collections of like-objects remark on the interplay between containment and excess. On the other hand, Christy Matson’s small weavings introduce line as a form of repetition, which through its inherent process of intersection, reveals the implications of industry within their hand-making.
In contrast, two of the artist’s work intricately traces haptic gestures, with a nod toward disappearing landscapes and lost language: Inga Dorosz’ drawings track and map recognizable renditions of trees and other organic forms, yet the tiny line work pixilates and separates the scenes like disappearing data; Léonie Guyer’s small works remove information further – little abstract shapes are like punctuation that has lost its conversation and therefore its purpose, yet they remain like memories of forgotten stories. Lastly, a removal of the hand is seen in Ken Fandell’s photographs which document complicated assemblages of light that he stages in the studio. The resulting images are like “snake-oil” of phenomenological auras, believable yet entirely fictitious, selling us its visual dazzle as remedy for the ugly and perhaps dystopic real world.
Overall, the curating of the work is very cohesive. The meanings of the gestures becomes amplified by the accumulation of lines, objects, color or images as they are gathered and reiterated over time, grounding the work in opaque process-driven rigor, despite the transparency, both in materiality and in concept.
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-Contributed by Leora Lutz