Practice, Practice Every (ongoing) Day
through April 14th
Arena 1 Gallery, Santa Monica
By Eve Wood
Jody Zellen and Pam Posey have curated a fascinating exhibition that looks at process-based artworks made over extended periods of time. The idea of making an artwork to delineate or mark a history or a passage in time is a powerful human impulse, and this exhibition not only explores this idea as a means of recollection, but also as a way to reflect on our human mortality.
Much of the work in this show is obviously and necessarily self referential, some more so than others as with Laura Cooper and Nick Taggart’s photographic series entitled “The Sleep Piece (Exterior of Unconsciousness, One Photograph Every Morning Before Waking)” which began as a means of understanding Cooper’s insomnia, but expanded into 6768 images that appear also as a testament to love. Karl Baden also documents his own body daily in a process by which he takes one image against a white backdrop, his face stoic and centered in the frame. This process piece is another example of a series of works that document human fragility and mortality, simply and elegantly.
The idea of seeing versus “being seen” presents its own complicated processes, and Hasan Elahi’s work examines, quite profoundly, the artist’s own life, under constant surveillance and investigation by the FBI. “Tracking Transience” is a compendium of photographs and data, all of which constitute a life. Elahi, aware that his life was being pulled apart, decided, quite courageously, to open his life up to even greater scrutiny and make it available for public consumption. The viewer has trouble locating the artist in the work, which could be a metaphor for the fact he is being exposed almost on a cellular level like hiding in plain sight.
Still other works in this exhibition move away from the self to reflect the living world. Margot Guralnick’s work is akin to a daily meditation wherein the artist looks at the natural world and attempts to understand it and ascribe some meaning to it. Her images of leaves and various plants, native to her neighborhood in the Bronx, comprise a startlingly detailed account of the world around us, a world we often ignore. Jody Zellen and Pam Posey also investigate the living world as it applies to the imagination. Posey’s daily drawings stand as daily musings of the world around her, whether it be drawing of paint brushes or a map of Ireland, Posey’s watercolors are gorgeously rendered visual exaltations. Similarly, Zellen’s daily drawings, are part of a daily ritual of drawing for more than three minutes to a piece of music. The results are whimsical and fantastical, figures falling forward into themselves, others pushed up against broken causeways leading nowhere. These are densely imagined drawings that speak to human connectivity, or the lack thereof. Zellen’s lines appear unending as though they were drawn all at once in a flurry of imagined space, creating a strangely alluring zeitgeist of space and time. Looking at them, one feels isolated despite the inter-connectivity of lines.
Participating Artists: Deborah Aschheim • Karl Baden • Laura Cooper and Nick Taggart • Hasan Elahi • Nancy Floyd • Martin Gantman • Margot Guralnick • Annetta Kapon • Jamie Newton • Pam Posey • John F. Simon, Jr. • Christina Price Washington • Jody Zellen • Sean Zellmer