The Hallway Gallery
66a South St
Jamaica Plain Ma 02130
The Hallway Gallery
Common Names is a site specific sculpture made of approximately 150 beach stones wrapped in paper, and installed near a grove of sea grasses on the beach at Bumpkin Island. The paper was wet before applying to the stones, and as it dried in the sun it took on the contours and shape of the stones. After drying, I wrote a name on each rock in graphite. The names were a combination of common names, and names of people I know.
Volunteers helped wrap the rocks, and also helped to generate name ideas. The conversation about names and naming is an evokative, personal, specific one that even strangers can easily become engrossed in. Each name and each stone seems to be for one person, and for every person.
The stones with their names nestled at the edge of the sea grasses seem vulnerable and protected at once. They are visible from far away because of their color, but their shapes and contours match that of all the stones on the beach.
Common Names is about the strange dual sense of self that we have as human beings. On one hand we have a profound sense of individuality and private selfhood, and on the other hand, most of what we call our identity; our DNA, our bodies, our perception, our basic human needs, almost our entire identity, is shared with every member of humanity.
Verses is an ongoing work in which prose verses that I composed are written in a stylized text, on long paper banners, and applied to the ground in areas of the landscape that are intended as views or lookout points. The banners are tilted and appear like a subtitle to the view. The two texts that I applied at two key lookout points at Bumpkin Island are the following
“Everything will be fine, your struggle, and the fighting of your mind, the pitching motions of your experience.”
“The sky will take on a yellow cast, once this cast has grown into morning, let the light of that morning fall on your hands, keep them still until the light changes.”
Verses shares something with Common Names. While the texts seem to talk directly to the individual reader, they also talk to every reader. I intend for them to touch the reader’s private sense of selfhood and also their sense of self as an archetype in a broad humanity. They are like bible verses in that way, speaking to the individual and the archetypal reader at once. But unlike Bible verses they ask the reader to rely on him or herself and on this world for strength and solace, instead of asking them to look outside of themself to God or to the idea of Heaven.
Here are a few more photos and info about what Rise Industries was up to on Day 6-7 of the ICI Residency. Today, Friday, is the final install day for the exhibition, and Jeremy, Michele, Mike, and John are still at ICI, but I’ve returned to Boston, and already miss it!
These two photos above, are from the filmstrip The Air About Us; a 1959 filmstrip for grammar school students, about a range of ideas relating to air and air pressure. The slides are beautifully photographed, oddly diagrammatic and some with the same awkward humor you see in those above. The filmstrip, which I watched without audio, has a wierd tonal contrast between pedagogy and poetry, science and spirituality. It’s an experimental text and image work in itself.
I discovered what I thought was the empty filmstrip canister on my first day at ICI. A photo of the title on top of the canister is featured in exhibition. But, because it’s such a short filmstrip, it was actually clinging so close to the sides of its canister that I really thought the canister was empty. The last day I was there, I happened to open the canister again and realized the film had been there all along…
The Air About Us , the phrase alone relates to the work we did during the residency. The air about us could be the representation of distance using two dimensions; the uncanny quality of our 3d stereographic portraits. The air about us could be the cultural distance that travel photography can put between the subject and photographer. Or, it could be about misrepresentations of sizes and distances of continents in global projection maps. It could also be about the contrast of closeness and distance we encounter in video chatting. Also, the air about us, is about us; Rise Industries. It’s about our personal relationships and histories and the roles we organically adopt within the collaborative, and challenges we face as we make art as a collaborative with members on opposite coasts and more than one continent. Working with Rise at ICI was a fantastic experience and I want to thank Rise and ICI, so very much!
Lately I’ve been realizing that Suzanne Oshinsky and I share an interest in depicting language and misunderstandings while actively engaging the viewer, and her recent text-based work is very intriguing to me. In particular, her flash animation, Eye-dew-knot-no, recently on view at Light and Wire Gallery, forces the viewer to make mental leaps while reading passages of text with select words switching back and forth between their homophones. Each homophone is a hyperlink, which when clicked on brings the reader to additional passages of a seemingly disjointed narrative. The process of reading becomes more active than passive, as if one is simultaneously reading and translating a second language. At first this process of decoding text is more present than the narrative itself, however depending on which homophone is clicked the next screen might repeat something already read, allowing for second and third reads which brings the scenes and scenarios depicted into vivid focus in the reader’s head. Eye-dew-knot-no reads like an email from my father-in-law, with his practice of purposefully using the wrong homophone, and Oshinsky has been interested in these misreadings in other recent work, but the complexity in both form and content is what makes this animation more successful.
Last night I stepped outside around 3AM to take a peak at the rare Leonids meteor shower. Bundled up in warm clothes, I layed down timidly in the sktechy alley behind my apartment and gazed up at the overly light-poluted LA sky hoping for a few fireballs to provoke my imagination.
Don’t get me wrong, I love seeing shooting stars….but the term ‘meteor shower’ evokes images more like the famous 1833 coming of the Leonids, when the sky was literally ‘showered’ with falling stars such that people were roused in the middle of the night to come out and witness the end of the world unfolding before them! Hype aside, that’s certainly not what I experienced last night.
I know this isn’t a direct comparison… but this gives me the same kind of feeling I got on a cold night when I was a little kid and my parents were roused to a frenzied search around the house to find that there was a, “draft coming in the front door!” Me… not understanding the word ‘draft’, was sadly looking to the front door and all out the windows up and down the street for the giraffe… Imagine my disappointment!
Now I think I’ve got most of my words figured out at this point in my life, but in my quest for idealism I must ask why they call them ‘meteor showers’ when they know that aint right? These more typical celestial events, that bring us outside to gaze at the sky for perhaps a glimpse of a small slice of happenings of the cosmos, should be called something more like ‘meteor slightly drippy faucets’. Then they won’t keep getting my hopes up!
So Jeremy and I will have new work included in an exhibition and book curated by our good friend, D. Jean Hester. Other artists contributing to this project, besides the three of us, include: Cathy Akers, Nancy Haselbacher, Jaunita Meneses, Miller Updegraff and Louisa Van Leer. The opening and book launch is Sunday Nov. 8, 4-7 pm at Project_210 in Pasadena. Hope you can come!
John and I have been finalizing the English to Korean translations for my video project (i dream in your language – to be shown at SoundWalk on Oct. 3) and I am realizing how nuanced this whole process is. With four bilingual friends helping, we ended up with several slightly varying interpretations of the interview with Jonggeon Lee. So far I have 5 more interviews to translate, and several more to shoot. The project is becoming bigger than I imagined, and I am excited about it – enjoying the process, and trying to figure out how represent it in this piece or in another one. i dream in your language began at VSC when I saw that Le Kinh Tai was using google translate, which is often inaccurate, to communicate with all the rest of the residents. This morning Jeremy sent me an article about the UN interpretation process, which also seems to sometimes result in inaccuracies. Sounds Dangerous.
If any of you speak multiple languages in addition to English and want to participate in this project let me know. I still would like to interview people speaking German, French, Arabic, Hebrew, Hindi (Nicole I will interview you in Nov.), Japanese, Tagalog, and any Eastern European and/or African languages/dialects… I ask three questions in English and you respond in your native language (or language of preference): 1. Where are you from and what languages do you speak? 2. What is it like to communicate with people who don’t speak your native language? 3. What language(s) do you dream in?
Last Friday, Jeremy and I went to Skylight Books in Los Feliz to hear my office-mate at Otis, Peter Gadol, read from his new book Silver Lake. I know him as the grad writing faculty who often sits at his computer with headphones on, office door shut, preferring the quiet solitude. He probably knows me as the undergrad ACT faculty who’s open door office policy disturbs said solitude. Despite our different office styles, we get along quite well and I was curious to learn more about his professional endeavors outside of Otis. His reading was well attended mostly by friends and fans, including many Otis Liberal Arts and Sciences faculty and both current and former students. I must admit Jeremy and I initially listened with a critical ear to the authenticity of some of Peter’s descriptions of the architectural firm shared by the two main characters in Silver Lake (Jeremy is, after all, an architect himself). However since having bought the book, by the end of chapter two I was hooked, wrapped up into their emotional lives, and couldn’t wait to get home today to continue reading, in order to find out how Carlo really knew Tom and what happens to disrupt his life with Robbie… I’ll leave it at that, as you have to read it for yourself. For now I’ve forced myself to put it down so that I can get back to work in the studio.
Terri Cohn, San Fransisco based writer, curator, art historian whom I met while at Vermont Studio Center, has been writing about her experiences there and just posted part one of a two part online exhibition of art and writings by VSC June residents, and my work is included. Check it out.