Photographic Installations: Butter The Size of an Egg
This Project was part of the Group Exhibition PHOENIX: REINVENTION, RENEWAL, RESURRECTION, Spark Contemporary Art Gallery, Syracuse, NY, 2009
Included Artists: Elizabeth Schneider, Ben Stein, Alison Chen & Michael Covello
The mythical Phoenix exists in many forms in every ancient culture. It is immortal, possessing the power to regenerate, and reincarnate though fiercely blazing itself and nest into a new younger self. Like the phoenix some family members and personal objects from the past make there way into the present. These objects speak to past instances and past memories that through their preservation become eternal but take on new life.
These recipe cards have been, passed down, reproduced, saved and preserved and have transformed through four generation of women. Through my replication, organization and associations, the somewhat obsolete objects of the past take on new life and meaning, and continue speaking to their past lives. The recontextualization of the replications and photographs help mend the disconnect that exists between my life and the past as well as creates new meaning. Just as the generations before me, I am collecting, archiving, preserving and replicating. I renew the life of the past’s objects and recall the history and their owners while creating a new unique, personalized, present.
Article Written by Michael Covello:
EMERGING ARTISTS INVESTIGATE THE COMPOUND IMAGE
In Conjunction Junction, five emerging artists come together to focus on the processes of assemblage, repetition, and juxtaposition. By presenting their own composite structures, these artists, although multifarious in their methods, collectively represent the homogeneous effort to develop aesthetically superb and philosophically charged geometries.
Elizabeth Schneider’s art deals with human consequence in our ecological habitat. In her newest painting, Dear Richard Henry, I Wish I Was Special (2009) Schneider utilizes a four-paneled vertical format to depict a tropical forest scene filled with birds. A giant, narrow tower of bright color and texture, Schneider’s eight foot tall, carved wood painting seems to howl for attention while her stylistic renderings beckon the viewer to revel in the sheer might and power of the scene. However, upon examination one realizes how humbling the painting’s piece-meal assemblage is. The mighty forest now seems overgrown and out of control, too much to fit on a single panel and refusing to conform to its boundaries. These panels reveal a vociferous façade, which is the very strength and conscience of the work, as it embodies the ever-consuming nature of humanity. While moral responsibility is rendered with emotion in Schneider’s work, it is incongruously depicted through narrative and humor in the work of Benjamin Stein. A storyteller at heart, Stein’s digitally manipulated photographic works convey complex narratives derived from biblical and contemporary references.
In his three-paneled triptych, Replacing Sheep with Robot Sheep (2009), Stein illustrates a hypothetical world where even the most common domesticated animals cannot escape our rapid technological over-growth. Quoting from medieval alter pieces, his work employs the use of continuous narrative, the method of portraying the same figure in multiple spots to delineate a storyline. Additionally, the triptych format, a religious storytelling device, is reinvented by the high-tech context and thus speaks to the swift modernization of society.
In Anima (2009), Alison Cheng utilizes the structural duplicity of the grid to depict and document the ceremonious recreation of a first kiss. Cheng’s large installation, roughly six by seven feet, appears dangerous yet sentimental, looming over the viewer and engulfing their periphery with ephemeral glimpses into abstract events. At once corporeal (portraying the
wet, breathy, warmness of another’s mouth against yours) and emotional (capturing anxiety and excitement), the photographic grid imbues this piece with a pulse-like energy, reanimating this fleeting moment from the artist’s past through ritualistic repetition. Cheng’s dark and emotional photos have found certain camaraderie among the abstract charcoal and graphite paintings of Michael Covello.
Characterized by their exquisite mark making and transient silver smolder, the dark yet luminous paintings make the tangibility of time less palpable and the familiarities of space more nonspecific. In Phenomenological Abstraction #19 (Dark Intermission), Covello has divided the surface plane of his abstract-expressionist painting into long thin vertical panels, punctuating the burnished whirling deluge with voids of white wall. The resulting tension is blatant; the push and pull experience of the juxtaposed black and white stripes fight for dominance, simultaneously swallowing each other up and heaving each other outwards. The drawing itself becomes significant, where one minute the sheen of the graphite dazzles and the next, the marks fall flat and dull. As these fickle gestures carry over from panel to panel, it almost seems as if they are leaving imaginary marks in the voids. The empty space the work inhabits becomes just as significant as the work itself, collapsing our traditional expectations of space.
Contradictory to Covello’s tense installation, the photographic works of Nicole Tariverdian use juxtaposition to enhance meaning and gather synergy. In Butter the Size of an Egg (2009), Tariverdian assimilates and duplicates old or forgotten mementos and scrupulously assembles the cloned keepsakes into evocative installations. By resurrecting these once precious objects and digitalizing their existence, she begins to modernize things verging on obsolescence,
and in the process evaluates old family customs and traditions. With almost forensic-like precision, Tariverdian organizes and presents to us her findings, delicately dangling them from book-binder’s string, a reference that perhaps the viewers are reading, or even inheriting, an ancestral lifeline.