Keep Your Head to the Sky

by Don Goddard

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Handforth's White Lightening
© Mark Handforth
White Lightning,
2004 fluorescent lights, fixtures 14 1/2 x 3 feet -
MH 076
I don't know where the title comes from, but in the work of all three artists--Katja Strunz, Udomsak Krisanamis, and Mark Handforth--it seems to be the sky from or against which the mind sees and forms. Handforth's Schlosspark is a signpost that has collapsed into a twisted configuration on the ground. Straightened out, the pole would have carried the sign to be seen at some impossible height. Obviously, it wouldn't fit in an art gallery that way, and probably doesn't belong there either. There is nothing written on the sign anyway, so bringing it closer doesn't help, though it makes the pole more interesting, or noticeable. White Lightning is a group of twelve fluorescent light tubes that stretch basically in groups of three from where the wall meets the ceiling to where the wall meets the floor. They angle downward sort of like a lightning strike of which they are a kind of representation, as in a painting. Though their power source is not immediately evident (one simply assumes it), they are not, of course, a real representation, because they do not flash and they are on all the time, except, presumably, when they are turned off or there is some kind of power failure. But that may just be a matter of different perceptions of time duration. In any case, they are fluorescent bulbs, only arranged differently than the usual, perhaps practical, rectilinear manner as seen in the ceiling above the piece. Like the signpost, this is something that is in this form appropriate to an art gallery, but not to the out of doors, where it would compete with another reality, including the sky.

2 of Us
© Udomsak Krisanamis
Just the 2 of Us, 2004
acrylic, noodle, and tape on canvas

2 panels: each 79 X 48 X 2 inches - UK 313

Krisanamis' Just the 2 of Us is a diptych of two vertical canvases about three inches apart but connected in pattern and by the fact that several of the horizontal stripes seem to continue from one to the other. The canvases present a complicated grid of horizontal and vertical stripes, overlapping and underlapping, in brown plastic wrapping tape, white acrylic, and whitish, nearly transparent noodles. One seems to look through this grid into the blackness behind it, seen as black rectangles, in which are imbedded arched shapes that appear to be lights, like those of windows in tall city buildings. The grid is a screen, and there is a distinct feeling of being trapped on this side of the screen, prevented from reaching the other side, though a few diagonals create the illusion, as perspective, that there is some kind of movement between this side and that. Partial words appear here and there, one of them "ognito," indicating, perhaps, incomplete perception (cognito) or knowledge.

Katjia Strunz Untitled
© Katja Strunz
Untitled, 2001
19 5/8 x 13 5/7 inches
(framed) - KS 010
The other world in Katja Strunz's work is also of this world. But most of the cut-out pieces in a series of fourteen collages are from books--pictures and text--so there is already an intermediary, a basis in accumulated knowledge. What has been photographed or written is, for the most part, what we know. The two most straightforward collages are of a harbor or marina with boats. The one of the Port of Cassis has the word "Continent" written in the sky, as though to say that this simple picture contains at least a part of the whole world if you imagine what lies beyond this port. The other has the words "yesterday is not today" pasted on it, which might also be read "today is not yesterday," indicating that what is shown does not represent this view for all time, an observation that is obvious but nonetheless startling in regard to all the things we do and do not know. All the rest are constructions of interpenetrating triangles cut from texts and maps and views of various parts of the world--seacoasts and cities, Monument Valley and Vancouver Island--that reassemble the world as a kind of cubist space of the intellect. The triangles focus the mind and the eye like Renaissance perspective, enabling us to cross over from one territory to another--all the way from Vancouver to the southeast United States in one case--piercing from one space into another. But of course they are also fragments of a much larger and incomprehensible entity, enveloped by the sky, from and within which most of these views are projected.

Donald Goddard © 2004

The exhibition held at Gavin Brown's enterprise, 620 Greenwich Street, New York, NY 10014.

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