“Sallie Gardner,” Eaweard Muybridge’s 1898 experimentation in moving image is a behemoth of an idea that went on to permeate the globe over. Empires wrought, industries born and slayed. “Sallie Gardner’s” offspring are much more glamorous, opinion altering even, but that original act of curiosity and its continued influence cannot be underestimated. At three seconds, consisting of twenty-four frames delivered in rapid-fire succession- a stallion and its jockey gallop full throttle without hindrance. Considered one of the original silent film, the “how’d he do that?” veil has long ago been pulled back- mystery gone, yet no less majestic. On view now at Michael Thibault Gallery is group show “Sallie Gardner,” named from Muybridge’s seminal photographic experimentation. It could easily be assumed that this show deals exclusively with the multifaceted realm of film (the press release mimics modern day movie poster- Harmony Korine is one of the many talents on the roster). But, Michael Thibault’s “Sallie Gardner,” is an exercise in harnessing a force- both literal (as the original “Sallie Gardner” proved) and figurative.
Entering Michael Thibault’s intimate space, the curatorial restraint is admittedly not quick to register. Arranged throughout, at different levels and of a multitude of disciplines, each of these works are compellingly complex in their existence; imagination and synapsis triggered within the viewer. One of several pieces occupying the floor space is Jared Madere’s “Untitled, 2013” an assemblage of once wet bed sheet, cargo straps and slowly decaying array of snacks. A cyclone of manmade tentacles creates a clockwise flow. Almost acting as a benchmark for which to circumnavigate “Sallie Gardner.” As your eyes consume the floor and move to the walls around you three modestly sized magnetically charged canvases command to be your first stop. Here, a pulsating sunset can hardly be contained. Sitting just on the surface like a droplet of water are bones arranged into X’s, no less delicate than a sparrow’s femur. Each is something to behold, the Ruscha-ism is glaring and not incorrect. Artist Juliette Bonneviot makes no qualms in fact as proven with its title, “Ed Ruscha Things Oriental 3X (Small), 2013.” Here, the heavy hitter, that figurative force whose emblematic typography and gasoline stations are quintessential to the West Coast identity, is wrangled and divided into Bonneviot’s trifecta.
Flanking Bonneviot’s work are cylindrical knee-high poles. One must kneel to observe the nature of the flotsam within Aude Pariset’s, “Learning from Development (Family Art Therapy: Foundations of Theory and Practice), 2013.” An art transportation device (in conventional manner and in Pariset’s creation), teem with possibilities. Could this contain a blueprint to a beginning, or an artist’s conclusive creation? Kelp dances among imagery and perspex, a transparent sliver of nature captured, yet continuously fluctuating within. This balance of manufactured object and natural element is echoed too in Kristen Van Deventer’s “Bookcase and Receiver, 2013.” Although stationary, the delicate pigment and evidence traces of the characteristically prickly bougainvillea, occupy a milky film of silk pulled taut to the frame.
The collision of manmade with natural elements (and the attempt to harness such), is not more apparent then within Tobias Spichtig’s video installation, “Iconographic Meltdown/ Iceberg, 2012-13.” Rounding out “Sallie Gardner,” is this short in which a solitary iceberg island juts from an oceanic abyss. Seemingly, every spectrum of blue is present as the camera slowly pans 360 degrees around this perpetually melting island. Here, Spichtig’s captures a glimpse into decay. At 5:15 Rhianna’s song “Stay” serenades this dwindling, soon to be lost island of ice.
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-Contributed by Bianca Guillen