Last weekend, the Artist Pension Trust hosted the “3 x 3 x 3: APT Project Rooms,” a trio of exhibitions curated from the APT New York collection, which addresses the tensions that arise from three artworks or ideas. Curators were invited to respond to a prompt calling for an investigation of the relationship between two lines, which will either inevitably cross paths or never intersect, and three lines which begin to define a form or shape and to give volume or dimension to space and time (in the form of past, present and future). My exhibition, VECTORS CONCEIVED, was selected to fill one of three studio spaces in the light-flooded APT-owned Brooklyn warehouse. It included three works currently held in the New York trust: a sculpture made of purple florescent light tubes by Ivan Navarro, a photorealist watercolor and pencil drawing of a rumpled bed by Chris Doyle, and a DVD work by David Dempewolf…
The boarders and lines which govern our lives, and which our entire society so diligently strives to follow and enforce, are in fact not there at all. The concepts of space and time are mechanisms we create for ourselves to lend a sense of organization to our existence, and are therefore only as powerful as we believe them to be. But what if one disregarded the rules? What would happen if we no longer tried to neatly pack ourselves into past, present and future?
“Vectors Conceived” is an exercise in intentional ambiguity, in the freeing notion of following no notion at all. Each piece subordinates any formal artistic elements and medium so as to delve into the empty space of the concept. These artists have invoked an experimental disregard for the accepted ideas of linear space and time, instead warping, freezing or magnifying its influence.
David Dempewolf’s Time Travel Project: Leni Riefenstahl (2004) is a monument to the power mankind has over these governing forces of space and time, which we think serve to control us. With this video work, the artist has captured a loop of time and frozen it into perpetuity, demonstrating our influence over the supposedly untamable forces. The figures depicted in the video further highlight our ability to shift and warp our surroundings — one cannot quite tell if they are progressing forward or being pulled backwards through their circumstances. Neither moving into the future nor regressing into the past, those in the film seem forever frozen in the present as the video loop continues.
While Dempewolf’s work warps and bends the relationship between past and present, the large-scale watercolor Hotel on Rivington IV (2006) by Chris Doyle reminds us once again of the incredible power that space and time hold over us. These governing structures reclaim their authority in the hyperrealist flatness of the piece, which depicts rumpled white bed linens wrapped around stretched across a matress. The sheets and pillowcases’ linear wrinkles cross and collide across the surface of the work, recalling yet refusing to name the now absent people who had once occupied the space. The surface tension portrayed – itself locked into time by the artist’s dexterous use of watercolor and pencil – alerts us to the universal taunting fear of being stuck in one place and time, unable to progress forward, and thus nowhere at all.
The unsettling sense of disassociation in Dempewolf’s video and tension in Doyle’s watercolor culminates in Ivan Navarro’s sculpture Zig Zag Electric Chair (2006), returning us to the self-reflection first prompting the viewer’s exhibition experience. Composed of neon tubes shooting through the space, the construction of this piece seems a macrocosmic representation of the physics occurring inside, where the particles vibrate and collide to produce the bursts of light we see as a purple glow. In creating a chair out of neon tubes, the artist has actually harnessed light into a utilitarian object, forcing it to “sit still” in space for a practical use. Because the neon tubes will inevitably burn out, however, we are once again reminded that the power Navarro has yielded over the space will eventually run out of time.
"Vectors Conceived" curated by Blaise Niosi
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