Philip Maisel’s assemblage and photography in the Right Window at Artists’ Television Access are comprised of multiple layers of materials and surfaces that are stacked, as the title proclaims. When I look at this work I think of “the arrangement”. Like compositions in general, such as music, poetry or even bento boxes, complimentary aspects are arranged to create a larger whole which serve a purpose to partake. Maisel engages with partaking in the ritual of gathering, archiving and display leaving in turn legends of his movements for the viewer to contemplate. These piled reiterations of discard are remnants of ritual repurposed as eliminations of their previous function called out in offerings for new meaning. “Stack” is not so much a totemic pile rising up, but rather a lean-to architecture of various flat items carefully placed one in front of the other.
An inquisitive selection of objects in tans, blacks, accented with red and mirrors leans against the wall of a raised stage located at the window of the small gallery space. There are fingerprints on many of the shapes which mark erasure of historical layers of dust gathered over an unknown period of time. Now, the small ovals of the fingerprints and abstract smears of hand gestures bring the nostalgia of these items into the present.
Many of the materials are those that might be found in commercial or offices spaces, circa late 1960’s – brown perforated peg boards, white-coated shelves, cardboards and faded black plastics. Also here are bright red shards and glittering mirror segments, reminiscent of theatrical glamor. The mirrors reflect the surrounding urban landscapes and people passing by – they reflect the viewer too and sometimes me as I attempt to photo document the space. I spend a lot of time with the reflections, looking at fractals, watching people get chopped apart and reconfigured multiple times as they pass by.
Also in the small gallery space are 5 photographs that document other similar stacks. Still, reflective surfaces are at every turn throughout the entire space. Each piece reflecting shapes and images of the ones across, and absorbing them into the image plane, be it on the actual objects in the installation or in the glass surfaces of the framed works. Each recursion of layers change and inhabiting the space anew, making for a unique experience at each glance or while studying the pieces closer and for longer moments. Layer upon layer of what is there and what is being reflected reiterates notions of the real as it collides with optical illusions. It’s as if everything is moving here, although we know that they are static arrangements of time, stoic yet activated as commendable ritual.
“Stack” is curated by Kevin Killian.
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