Contemplating relationships

By IAN PAIGE  |  April 11, 2007
ALLAH DOLLAR MANDALA: by Virginia Fleck. Plastic bags & tape, 2006.
Another example of excellent curatorial sensibility is the wall immediately to the left upon entering the exhibit. The work of Christopher Keister explores spatial relationships of repeated concentric circles. Earthen tones vibrate in an optical dance, an engaging tension with the determinedly set patterns formed by the circles. Jeff Kellar takes this kind of simplicity to an elegant extreme with his minimalist “Wall Drawing in Orange Space,” a fascinating work about edges. The piece teeters on the edge of abstraction and the representational, a compositional play of color and shape while functioning as a depiction of constructed space with as few components as possible. The viewer’s eyes also ride the line, actually constructing the space by choosing to accept this illusionistic relation. In “Anna,” by Daniel E. Davis, a woman sits at a shiny table while staring at the camera. The yellow in her sweater is reflected by the yellow in a minimalist painting on the wall that draws from a similar inspiration as Kellar’s work. The light reflecting off its framed glass is echoed in a glass of water. Each angle of constructed space becomes part of a compositional whole. In three moves, the PMA has taken us from archetypal patterns, to constructed spatial relations, to the human presence actually within material construction.

Sam Van Aken takes curatorial control of his back corner of the museum. An interconnected complex of pieces form a multi-media onslaught of Deleuzian schizophrenia. “Becoming” is an imminent loss of selfhood, looping in a return marked by a mediated existence. Scenes from Close Encounters of The Third Kind are projected alongside Van Aken’s own video re-enactments of the scenes. Another wall is covered by enlarged publicity head shots with autographs followed by ambitious recreations featuring the artist’s own visage. Aken’s work was not fully installed at press time but promises to be an experience.

Video holds a more prominent position in this year’s Biennial. Luke Lamborn exemplifies the gestural quality of the medium with a series of short pieces entitled “Square Millimeter of Opportunity.” The camera remains stationary while cars begin to round a corner on the expressway. The viewer, at first hypnotized by the repetition, quickly recognizes that the color of the cars is slowly shifting through the spectrum. In another short, a shaky amateur camera operator tapes a house on a street corner. After a minute, the camera almost accidentally reveals that there is a mirror image of the house hovering above the first, ominously ready to come crashing down. Lamborn takes what could be stylistic gimmicks and technological trickery in the hands of others and instead conveys a modern tension of social depth.

Outdoor installations are thematically linked as well. Robert Lieber’s window dressing “Icicles” will be an arresting sight for passersby should warm weather ever arrive. Slop artist Adriane Herman chose her outdoor site specifically to engage a public not necessarily intending to enter the art institution. Various pieces of luggage composed of solid birdseed and gelatin seem to grow out of or sink into the lawn. “All This Baggage Is For The Birds” will most likely be transformed over the duration of the Biennial by said birds. “R.I.P. (Rest In Peace)” is Monica Chau’s eulogy for Maine’s depleted populations of migratory fish. Headstones made from antiquated wood are inscribed with species’ names and a diagrammatic drawing. All of these outdoor interventions seek to temporarily dislocate unwitting viewers’ consciousness of daily experience.

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  Topics: Museum And Gallery , Tanja Alexia Hollander, Portland Museum of Art, Justin Richel,  More more >
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