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Installations at Coleman Burke

Quiet witness
By KEN GREENLEAF  |  April 11, 2012

art_Thickening_main
RECURSION “Raven mirror/unravel,” by Julie Poitras Santos, installation with performances.
"A Thickening Rhythm" is a show of five artists, one of whom, Julie Poitras Santos, also curated the show, at Coleman Burke in Brunswick. The others are Carrie Scanga, Ling-Wen Tsai, Lauren Fensterstock, and Deborah Wing-Sproul. The works are, for the most part, installations, and there's a performance scheduled for later in April. Quoting from the e-announcement, "Contrasting the speed of contemporary life, the artwork by these five artists require the maker and the viewer to be quiet for a time."

Carrie Scanga's work, "Ballast" (2012), is more of a discrete object than the rest. She has fabricated quite a few brick-sized objects from tracing paper and stacked them on a shipping pallet, as if to be loaded on a truck (actually, I don't know how it was made, but this is how it appears). The defining theme is the contrast between its apparent weight, a lot of stuff on the pallet, and the translucent quality of the objects, a pallet-load of air.

The first work by Ling-Wen Tsai, "leaves" (2012), is a video projected downward from the ceiling that is appears to be sunlight passing through wind-disturbed leaves to make a moving pattern on the floor. The gallery had to block some windows to present it, which creates a conceptual reverse — instead of real but unpredictable window light we have a self-maintaining mediated experience.

Her other piece, "sitting quietly..." (2012), is a circle of stools surrounding a light suspended from the ceiling, each bearing a black noise-cancelling headset. A group can sit facing each other with quiet enforced by the headsets, experiencing whatever interaction remains when the room's sound is absent.

Lauren Fensterstock's "Colorless Field" (2012) is a rectangle on the floor eight feet wide and fifteen feet long occupied by her characteristic materials, paper and charcoal. It is rather like a big hunk of grassy turf except, of course, the grass and dirt are completely, densely, black. Not entirely colorless, though — there was enough sunlight through the windows when I visited to discern some hue variation. It looks a little like a deep pile of darkness into which the unwary might disappear.

The key object in "raven mirror/unravel" (2012) by Julie Poitras Santos is an ordinary pipe-construction scaffold. There's a pile of blackened, tangled ropes on the top with a single strand hanging down through a hole to the floor. A looped video shows the ropes being untangled, and a couple of feathered jackets are hung on it, ready to be worn. Some of the objects are used in performances.

On the wall near the scaffold is what appears to be its shadow, but is actually a shadow-like image executed in tar paper. A suspended bare bulb hovers near a pair of dice on the floor. The sound of clicking dice provides an otherwise mysterious soundtrack in the video. The two segments of the piece are complementary, expository, and recursive.

The video "Intimate Distance (the first reel)" (2012), by Deborah Wing-Sproul, is a 24-minute cycle of close-ups of people's bodies — faces, shoulders, knees, the creases where shoulders meet arms, and other parts, some identifiable and others not. There's a triangular tension joining videographer, subject, and viewer: each has to be prepared to invade the privacy of the other two. For all three it's a willful, almost aggressive act. The path is smoothed for the viewer by a solo cello soundtrack, interspersed with jarring narrative voiceovers.

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  Topics: Museum And Gallery , Ling-Wen Tsai, Lauren Fensterstock, Deborah Wing-Sproul,  More more >
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