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Images and Things

Emily Newman's Sightings, FLUXX Gallery 

February 2013

“Visible and mobile, my body is a thing among things; it’s caught in the fabric of the world, and its cohesion is that of a thing. But, because it moves itself and sees, it holds things in a circle around itself.”

― Maurice Merleau-Ponty

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Close up of “The Misperception of Objects On Carpet" Photo: FLUXX

Review by guest contributor Benjamin Gardner

March 5, 2013

My first experience with Emily Newman’s exhibition at FLUXX could be taken as a simplistic read, though I think that it is actually a poignant one; it feels like Newman is invested in making work about what predominantly happens in our peripheral vision—the fleeting moment that you think a brown paper bag is actually a small mammal, the perceptual mixing of images (what is reported to our brain), objects (the three dimensional-ness of that image in how we can navigate within it), and meaning.  If there is a rabbit in my periphery, I might walk more slowly as to not scare it away.  If there is a brown paper bag, my reaction is obviously much different, and hopefully I walk over to it and pick it up for proper disposal or reuse. 

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Close up of "I Thought It Was a Bunny' Photo: FLUXX

The way that Newman’s work does this, however, is by asking the viewer to look on an instinctive level that is counter-intuitive in the gallery setting.  More often than not, we are forcing meaning and understanding upon work in a gallery.  Newman’s work in the exhibition unfolds infinitely when one can look at them with normal cognition—the looking and thinking that we (within Merleau-Ponty’s "fabric of the world”) accomplish while driving, walking, and multi-tasking.  This unfolding is found in the meaning located within the context of the ways that we see objects and assign meaning to their form.  In the piece Misperception of Objects on Carpet, for example, not only do the three sculptural forms sticking up from the carpet have their own image/objectness, but their cast shadows also create an additional image of each; were the viewer looking only at the shadows, those shadow-images could reference an entirely different form.   What we anticipate would make a shadow on a carpet (which is domestic and familiar) is undoubtedly different than the crab claw or jawbone and teeth that are actually casting the shadow.  The piece is both familiar and out of place; quite stunning and ephemeral, and creates a sort of loop of perception and interpretation. 

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Installation shot Photo: FLUXX

Photography, too, is an added complexity to the relationship between image and object; the camera pretends that it understands the three dimensional space which we inhabit but it only does so by an averaging of light and shadow.  In the installation of photographs titled Pilgrimage and the single image Mistakes on Salt Lake Newman is working with the image as a signifier of reality in a physical manifestation.  It smoothly takes some of the cognition required for the three-dimensional work and applies it to the material of photography.  Additional image-reality relationships are formed in Pilgrimage by using two images, separated by a border, of the same scene and different manifestations of symmetry throughout the piece.  In most places the gold and silver leaf work perfectly—snapping the viewer out of a believable space, but in a few areas it was more difficult for me to make the leap and see it as more than material addition. 

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“Beauty In The Daily Pick-up" Photo: FLUXX

Newman’s exhibition is incredibly well thought out and transforms the gallery space in a way that many artists yearn for—by asking us to be cognizant of the work in a different manner.  The pure ephemerality of the exhibition is incredibly fitting; we don’t always see Beauty in the Daily Pickup of dog feces, but aesthetic moments, images, and objects are a standard structure of our understanding of reality.  

Benjamin Gardner is an artist living and working in Des Moines, Iowa.  He is also an Assistant Professor of Art + Design at Drake University where he teaches drawing classes as well as courses that explore personal identity theories, existentialism, and ideas of place, space, and living.  Additionally, Ben spends a lot of time growing food, looking at the sky, and reading about folklore and superstition.  He maintains a website that collects artist’s writings (Methodsofbeing.com).  You can see Ben’s studio work at benjaminagardner.com

Molly Free challenges what it means to own place.

LAND RIGHTS, Fluxx Gallery

August 3 -28, 2012

Molly Free (in the orange dress)

Review by Rachel

August 25, 2012

After closing up at Thee EYE this past First Friday, I came across a fan shape of white footprints streaming from the front door of Fluxx. I peered in through the glass to see Molly Free’s charcoal drawings and a floor covered in flour. Unable to participate in the opening, I later met with Free to inquire about the intended performance aspect of the drawings and the installation of flour on the floor.

 

Detail of large drawing being sold by the acre

She explained that the largest drawing is for sale by the acre. Red darts drawn on the wall imply a grid over the drawing; each 20"x20” section is priced at $66.66. This is roughly the amount you would pay for land today if you could purchase it in 20”x20” pieces. Being sold by the plot, Free’s composition will be cut apart into properties for it’s individual owners. 

Drawing individual ideologies at the opening

Free and I talked about what it means to own land. We all have an instinct to establish territory which has manifested into bank loans and private lifestyles. Being territorial is a tool of survival and inspires a need to defend, which can lead to destructive acts against the land and invaders.  

On the smaller wall sized drawing, Free established an unmarked territory for others to draw and respond to the show. Here, you are allowed to act on your own instincts by inscribing your ideologies into her work.

Flour foot pattern created by feet

To further confront the audience with the concepts of property and identity relating to a specific space, Free had flour spread all over the floor. As attendees shuffled their feet between each wall of drawings, Free observed the added texture on the floor creating a physical awareness of place. It acted as anchor where each person stood.

Detail of large drawing being sold by the acre

Free has a distinctive use of heavy line and loosely confided space between interacting subjects in her work. In the drawing to be dismantled, there is a mix of horizon and daydreaming. Spirit soul shapes are embeded in a sorta-landscape made of city, breakfast, birds-nest and airplane crash site. The drawing works as a whole and doesn’t appear to have been drawn with intent to be cut apart. Yet, you can cut it apart if thats what you want. When someone desires to own the eggs and bacon with Obama in the bottom right corner, it will be altered and changed for one persons dominion over space.

The Madness of Order, Nicolas Bohac At Fluxx

I Can Feel the World Happening Around Me, Fluxx Gallery

July 2012

Nicholas Bohac’s “Dwell”


Review by Jon

July 20, 2012

Landscapes of visions, dreams, order, and chaos are all mixed up as a colorful soup in the work of Nicolas Bohac.  The work delves into the lack of relationship between order and chaos and tries to find a system to contain the madness. Connections and divisions are drawn between elements of the the natural world, and grid-like superstructures that overlay or become the forms, thus transforming the landscapes into a vision of reality as humanity has altered it (or imagined it).

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Installation shot at Fluxx

With the series of chaos drawings, above, Nicolas has allowed a wet medium to explore the pores of paper. Later after the soupy mess has dried the artist observes shapes within the mess and superimposes grids and forms. This to me, is a microcosmic look at how humanity has dealt with the incomprehensible elements of nature. We are not “okay” with disorder and feel the need to superimpose control on the uncontrollable, finding and reading form into the formless terrifying beauty of the earth.

Nicolas Bohac's “Drift" 

Nicolas’ artist statement for the show talks about wanting to represent or capture the feeling we experience upon waking from a dream. The piece above, simply entitled "Drift,” most accurately acknowledges this state between sleep and wakefulness. A boat slowly traverses a foggy and indistinct water-scape while an electrical storm fills the sky overhead. Forms within the canoe are insinuated but wrapped in colorful blankets obscuring their identity. It is a reminder of the chaos and lack of control we experience when we drift off to sleep. Maybe the unbound state of our unconscious minds could teach us more about the natural world we live in than science and reason ever could. Maybe it already has.

Nicolas Bohac is an artist living and working in San Francisco, California. His work will be on display at Fluxx in the East Village until just before the end of the month. For more on this artist visit http://www.nicholasbohac.com .