LIVING IN A LIGHTBULB
Curated by Jenny Jaskey and Mia Locks
June 1 — August 30, 2019
June 6 — July 26, 2019
Tanya Bonakdar’s gallery
It’s like living in a light bulb, with the leaves
Like filaments and the sky a shell of thing, transparent glass
Enclosing the late heaven of a summer day, a canopy
Of incandescent blue above the dappled sunlight golden on the grass.
— Sally’s Hair by John Koethe (excerpt)
Living in a Lightbulb, curated by Jenny Jaskey and Mia Locks, is a two-part exhibition taking place in Tanya Bonakdar’s gallery New York and Los Angeles locations. Artists in the exhibition make use of light and heat — the sensoria of summer– to emphasize the slow, dynamic process of human encounter with these phenomena. Some artists employ sunlight as raw material to make images or sculptural forms. Others point to the way energy directs and regulates time and behavior. Orienting sight, even survival, within the vagaries of the cosmos, “living in a light bulb” is a precarious and fundamentally interdependent proposition.
Works in the New York exhibition include a site-specific installation by Bill Jenkins that redirects daylight from the gallery’s front window to a back room. This sculpture of light illuminates a picture of the Cosmos by Scott Lyall, an image animated by light reflecting off sub-visible information embedded in NanoFoil. Composite lunagrams and heliograms by Lisa Oppenheim of skies and seas document the steady change of light over the course of a day. Olafur Eliasson’s suspended rotating orb emits a hazy yellow glow, the light of a single frequency.
Topological transformation, and the role of natural energy in the reproduction and maintenance of life, connect several works in the exhibition. A monotype by Sam Lewitt recreates a scene from a Cesariano etching that documents the discovery of fire in the household, and Cauleen Smith reimagines archival footage as a conversation between humanity and planet Earth about impending ecological collapse. Transformation and decay are recurring themes in the work of Kelly Akashi, too, whose hand-blown glass orb is held, tenuously, as it filters light.
In Los Angeles, the material properties of several works: a painting by pioneering Light and Space artist Mary Corse incorporates glass microspheres in its surface that refract light, Sam Lewitt etches in Pyralux, a copperclad plastic laminate, with high thermal performance, used in ultra-thin circuit boards and electronics. Light seems to flicker and burst across James Welling’s large dégradé screens, works the artist makes by filtering light onto photo paper.
And in a dryly humorous conceptual work from 1970, Reading Position for a Second Degree Burn, Dennis Oppenheim uses UV rays to develop an image of a book on his skin. The interplay of light with the built environment––with airplane windows, sun shades, the shape of a room––is considered in works by Uta Barth, Martin Boyce, and K.R.M. Mooney. Mooney’s pair of steel sculptures echo the forms of light shields, like domestic blinds or awnings. A sculpture by Ann Veronica Janssens uses a modest sheet of corrugated aluminum to imagine moonlight within the gallery’s architecture.
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