Friday, September 29, 2006
Artificial Light, curated by John Ravenal, is at VCU's Anderson Gallery through October 29th. I'm glad I went to the opening, with all the people, and also later on when it was mostly empty. Most of the work in the show is better experienced without a crowd.
This show is so dark... I didn't know John Ravenal had such a dark side. I think I was expecting more of a mellow new-agey experience, like a Turrell or that big sun, but this show is political.
Jennifer Allora and Guillermo Calzadilla are showing a frankenplant being given just enough stimulus to keep it alive, the blue light emitted from a non-stop upward flow of Jenny Holzer's truisms - "symbols are more meaningful than things themselves", "the idea of revolution is an adolescent fantasy". This plant will now do anything that Jenny Holzer commands.
Iván Navarro has two black-light neon chairs, side by side in a pitch black chamber. Totalitarian design, awe and dread.
This is the shadow of an electrical cord cast by Nathaniel Rackowe's Dead Reckoning. He's built a corridor along which a bare electric bulb slowly tracks back and forth; as the bulb travels loops of slack cord are pulled up and the shadow noose tightens.
There are slats in the corridor, not wide enough to pass through, but you can walk all around the whole thing as shafts of light sweep through the space... LOOKING FOR YOU.
Spencer Finch's Kaaterskill Falls is the one piece that was better experienced with a crowd of tourists and tiny honeymooners. I like this piece (especially with people), but whereas before I was thinking this was the odd piece out, now I am thinking of it as the perfect complement to the rest of the work in the show. Interrogation, torture, and execution... with an American classic. Kaaterskill Falls is in the first room, so it is both your first and last impression of the show.
maybe more later... ?