Sleeping in a Beam of Sunlight: Terence Koh at Moran Bondaroff
By Genie Davis
Through March 11th
Walking into the dreamscape that is Terence Koh’s installation at Moran Bondaroff Gallery is a surreal and profound experience. Bathed in fuschia light, a piano, plants, books that can be touched but beg to be replaced in the order they were laid out create separate spaces in the gallery’s main room. Something between a homeless encampment and a fairy tale, the space holds a colorful sleeping tent, clothes, trash bags, a video tribute to the artist’s cat, visitors wandering in to commune with the intent, the spirit, and the person of Koh, who has moved into the gallery through March 11th.
Koh is known for his installations and durational performances, and this one is intense, elegaic, a visceral and visual experience. Beyond the first room, walk up to a mountain of dirt topped with a rainbow of neon light. Experience a massive boat/sandbox, which during the day includes a prism of rainbow light dancing down upon it, and by night is bathed in eerie darkness. View the artist’s make-shift kitchen tucked under stairs that lead to a roof garden, and his “bee chapel.” Enjoy a reverential and contemplative experience that hums with a strange, almost alien energy.
The gallery is Koh’s home for the period of the exhibition, during which time he plans to spend no money and stay only within the confines of the gallery and it’s roof. He won’t obsessively read the latest Trumpian catastrophe on Twitter, he won’t go out for dinner. He will use a compost toilet, collect rain water for bathing and watering his rooftop garden.
Koh’s cat, expected to be a part of the experiential installation, has moved on. Koh writes “baby hans maya yoo are a monk sitting silent in the morning waiting patiently for breakfast. yoo have taught this human patience… animal light so bright my crooked blind human eyes slowly awakens. namu dai bosa. namu dai bosa…we thought yoo were coming to los angeles with us mr cuddles. in my mind i sea yoo sleeping under a beam of sunlight on the gallery floor.” But instead, the beloved feline has a different home.
“in a few moments garrick and i will bee digging a hole in the earth under this giant oak tree. making yoo a home of earth and roots and stones and seeds. soon insects and bacteria will transform yoo just as it will transform me and all of us from the physical back into energy. tank yoo for teaching us so many tings hans maya. tank yoo for teaching me where home is.”
Like Koh’s poetic writing, the installation is both obscure and accessible, unique and innocent, strange and moving. To enter the gallery is to enter both a magical place and a mysterious one; a strange experiment, a monument, a moment suspended in time.
The Northern California-based artist is a cross between a zen monk and performance artist all but lost in the undercover mysticism of his own performance. To enter the gallery initially unaware of what one is seeing – as this writer was – is to be spun into an unexpected universe. Viewers expecting the experience will undoubtedly still travel there.
An artist and a force to be reckoned with, Koh is dealing not with the politics that seem to all but infuse many powerful exhibitions around town these days, but with spiritual politics – electing the spirit over the earthbound. Moran Bondaroff is located at 937 N. La Cienega Blvd. Visitors are encouraged to bring food contributions to the gallery to help sustain the artist.