whitehot | August 2011, Vicki DaSilva at Able Fine Art NY Gallery
Light Tartans Fountain Park #4, 40 x 54" C-print mounted on aluminum, 2007
Vicki DaSilva: REVERB
Able Fine Art NY Gallery
511 West 25th Street
New York, NY 10001
June 23rd until August 30th, 2011
Light painter and graffiti artist, Vicki DaSilva conquers two aesthetic discourses, both recently re-emerging onto the art world’s “preferred list.” Her solo show REVERB, at Able Fine Art NY, awakens the static photograph and illuminates iconography that normally only “goes bump” in the night. Exhibiting studio and sight-specific shots, DaSilva presents playful surface spaces as well as rhetorical images by juxtaposing two styles of light photography: painting and graffiti.
Light painting ignited into a stylistic technique after Man Ray had scribbled his signature in a series of self-portraits entitled Space Writing, 1935. Later in 1949, Pablo Picasso collaborated with Gjon Mili, and they exposed light’s sketch-esque quality when captured by the camera. The beginning of light painting introduced aspects of aperture and exposure that had not graced fine art photography.
Presently, artists capture light via the camera in a similar manner as in 1935, save the evolution of film to digital. Specifically, DaSilva shoots the single-frame time exposure light paintings at night, while her execution time ranges from minutes to hours per photograph. As if preparing for a performance, DaSilva plans her steps before appearing in front of the camera—demanding strategy and repetition to ensure perfection. Choosing tube lamps, either bare or patterned with color cellophane gels, as her brush, DaSilva paints her “light strokes” by hand or pulls the light source along a portable track system.
4% of Women Artists (for Jerry Saltz), 55" HD LED Light Crystal Display, 2009
DaSilva's series of light painting portrays patterned abstractions, alluding to her apprenticeships with Joan Jonas and Richard Serra. Light Tartans Fountain Park # 4 (2007) for instance, depicts a large empty space blanketed with waves of interweaving light. In great contradiction, DaSilva's piece does not force the viewer to imagine his or her body in relation to the universe. Rather, her abstract light paintings actually package the "awe" in a large-scale reproducible photograph. The last statement is not meant to be callous but merely a historical development in photography. The viewer explores and does not critique past works, focusing strictly on the present moment.
Vicki DaSilva’s work provides the complimentary mode of observation described by Roland Barthes in Camera Lucida. By using the architectural space of the photographic image as a site of interaction (studium), the artist creates marks with light that disrupt the scenic background with lines and words that are meant to provoke debate (punctum). USURPED #2 (2011) for instance, captures the title scripted across the facade of Gagosian Gallery at 555 West 24th Street, referencing the recent lawsuit between Patrick Cariou and Richard Prince. Here DaSilva draws a direct line between context and content, while remaining on a penumbra of anonymity. Unfortunately, the power of her word rests in a strange middle ground that is both figurative and literal. With this image serving as the only proof of DaSilva's artistic presence, the viewer is left second-guessing her artistic process.
In each case the referent, signifier, context or subject matter becomes the signified while differing by the slightest diction variant. DaSilva's photographs then become the exterior wall that she chooses to deface with light. In accords with Barthes, DaSilva captures a moment, in and of itself, as a means to its ends. She renders the narrative of light across the surface, impossible to trace with the human spectator's eye alone. Alas we might not find death in DaSilva’s photographs, but we delightfully discover life in the static medium.
ARTBURN, 55" HD LED Light Crystal Display, 2010
CORRIDINHO, 55" HD LED Light Crystal Display (revolving triptych), 2011
Jasmine/Never Sorry (for Ai Weiwei), 55" HD LED Light Crystal Display, 2011
Silk Walk, 55" HD LED Light Crystal Display (revolving triptych), 2011
SLALOM #1, 55" HD LED Light Crystal Display (revolving triptych), 2011
Tiger Blood, 55" HD LED Light Crystal Display, 2011
USURPED #2, 55" HD LED Light Crystal Display, 2011
Jasmine/Wall Power (for Ai Weiwei)," 40 x 20" Light Graffiti
Megan M. Garwood graduated from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, receiving a Bachelor of Arts concentrating in the History of Modern Art with a minor in Ethical Analysis and Morality. Once in New York City she paid her dues as a gallery girl, first at Bjorn Ressle Fine Art and next at Marlborough Chelsea. For the past three years she has worked as an Arts and Culture freelance writer for multiple international publications. Each morning she still asks herself if she feels more like a urinal than a work of art, only because “R.Mutt” is scrawled across her left shoulder.
• view all articles from this author