“Edge of Doom” at HILDE
By Mario Vasquez
Through May 27th
When looking at the title “Edge of Doom,” there were certain expectations of what this show may be about. With the state of the world as it is now, one may think that this exhibit was going to be about the chaotic and dangerous state of current affairs. It’s about something much more interesting, this exhibition is about “love.”
The concept of “love” has been a mystery to writers and artists for centuries. Quoted from Sonnet 116 by William Shakespeare, “The Edge of Doom” invites nine artists, Nick Farhi, Louis Fratino, Heidi Hahn, George Kuchar, Kristy Luck, Melanie Moczarski, Nicole Reber, Jennifer Remenchik, and Sam Spano, to explore the various aspects of love whether it be erotic, passionate, mythological, or familial. The title of the show is taken from the part of the sonnet which discusses the endurance of love, which can stand the test of time. The range in which “love” can be defined, the artists in “Edge of Doom” provide a provocative and compelling picture of emotions from base animal instincts to the kind of love that is built by the experiences each one has as a human being. The artists in “Edge of Doom” attempt to provide the viewer with various visions of love that are complex and challenging.
The love of nature is a “love” that has overwhelmed the imaginations of artists for centuries. Melanie Moczarski and Kristy Luck explore the love of the natural world. Both painters employ an early modernist approach to painting the environment. Luck’s paintings are reminiscent of Georgia O’Keefe style, the swirling curves and strong suggestive femininity. A woman’s hand with painted nails touch the forms as they burst and flow throughout the canvas. In Moczarski’s painting, the style and approach of Matisse is very much present. Made of a total of 20 panels, the paintings in Moczarski’s installation change and move upon each panel. The work is not organized to create a narrative. Instead the title suggests a dream sequence where the viewer is part of the natural world; displaying an affection for the landscape, the forest and the nature that Moczarski immerses the viewer.
Heidi Haihn’s paintings, each one titled “I am the experience I seek,” illustrates the love of the flesh as fetish throughout the history of art, and its portrayal of women. Influenced by German Expressionism, and in particular Edvard Munch, Hahn creates this environment where the body almost melts and de-forms in the surrounding milieu. Flesh and nature become entwined and melt into one. It is a meeting between the subjective landscape and the objective body and connects into an undefined passionate love.
Nick Farhi’s works portrays various scenes of places such as Niagara Falls, a small town near the U.S. – Canadian border, or moments of warmth toward a pet dog. Farhi, in his paintings, attempt to take the viewer into a reconstructed memory where love is brought to the viewer. The paintings represent memories, and references places where one affection is connected to everyday experiences.
Sam Spano’s paintings place love in a mythical context. The paintings show creatures, half human half animal, in displays of affection with humans. In “The Moment” a couple, one man and a woman who is half human half bird, share an erotic moment
Nicole Reber is a Los Angeles-based poet whose text-based works on bulletin boards constructs poems and phrases that invoke longing, love, and romantic feelings. In “Think of Me” the text states, “Hello May I be Alive in your Dream of Unconsciousness.” Other works urge the viewer to “Dream a Little of Dream of Me” in another work titled “The Last Starry Night.” There is a feeling of yearning that is conveyed by the narrator of the art work. Reber insists that love endures both during an affair and after. The poetry speaks of love and loss, and longing for the missing.
The video works of Jennifer Remenchik and George Kuchar explore both the filmic and media aspects of love. Both pieces play at the opposites of spectrums of melodrama and the cerebral. Remenchik’s video shows film stills from various movies, most from romantic dramas and comedies, while the narrator discusses love, sex and the problems that surround the relationship between her and an ex-boyfriend. Sexual politics, power, and domination are explored in a dry toned narration. Played almost like a dissertation. The video portrays scenes from movies about love and romance while the narration is dry and cold. Remenchik explores the sexual aspects of love, but has no feelings as to the emotional aspects that traditionally surround the concept of love. The video is cold, and makes one wonder if Remenchik is seeing that love may not endure, and instead becomes an exercise in sex and gendered politics. Love is truly at the edge of doom in the concept behind this video.
George Kuchar’s video takes love to its most melodramatic level. The story revolves around a couple who deal with psychological and neurotic aspects of each other, while dealing with problems with encountering characters such as a wayward priest, a promiscuous school-teacher and her proctologist husband, teenage thrill killers, and an obsession-driven psychotherapist with an enema bag. While exploring the intersection of love and the absurd, Kuchar is following an approach to film that is reminiscent of Luis Brunel and other Surrealist film-makers. Love endures the challenges of the absurdity that is constant in the Kuchar’s characters and the situations that follow. This film focuses on the Surreal experiences of love and its many manifestations.
Louis Fratino, like Nick Farhi’s work, paintings explore memories and experiences. The works depict moments between friends, family and lovers in various activities from climbing trees (“Frog Hallow”), to having a meal with family (“Burgers with your Dad”), to having sex (Can We watch Something Less Serious”). The figures portrayed in Fratino’s paintings are engaged in activities associated with love. However, there seems to be an emotional absence that is detached from the acts. Do the figures feel love for one another? Maybe Fratino is making a statement that love and the showing of affection can be both separate and together at the same time. Love in these paintings is a contradiction, it’s both complimentary and detached.
“The Edge of Doom” explores aspects of true love, with love that is both felt and experienced. This show is complicated, because love is complicated. “The Edge of Doom’ is excellent and deserves to be viewed many times.