Whitehot Magazine

July 2010, The Dissolve @ SITE Santa Fe

Installation View, L-R : Mary Reid Kelley, You Make Me Iliad, 2010; HD video; sound, 7 minutes 22 seconds
Courtesy of the artist, SITE Santa Fe commission 
Christine Rebet The Black Cabinet, 2007; 35mm film transferred to DVD; two-channel video installation; sound, 3 minutes 4 seconds
Courtesy of the artist and Galerie Kamel Mennour, Paris
Photo: Eric Swanson


The Dissolve
SITE Santa Fe
1606 Paseo de Peralta
Santa Fe, New Mexico 87501
June 20, 2010 through January 2, 2011

The artists invited by Sarah Lewis and Daniel Belasco to participate in The Dissolve, SITE Santa Fe’s Biennial, work in every conceivable medium, ranging from drawing, painting and sculpture to film, digital animation and 3D modeling. All of them, though, share an interest in animation as a means to relate their media of choice to the world of moving images. According to the curators, the impetus to animate behind many of the works can be read as an assertion of physical human presence in the immaterial realm of film/video, and a test of the shifting boundaries between handmade and high-tech artistic practices.
The exhibition includes thirty works, almost all of them presented via large projections on screens and/or suspended gauze panels. This creates a transparent and fluid exhibition space of moving images, with little or no sound seeping into the carefully crafted “picture.” This environment is the work of starchitet David Adjave. The projections remain largely silent though in some cases they mutter indistinctively to the visitor's ear, as sound is produced by near-field speakers suspended over the few benches and seats. Sound detail and depth is almost completely lost even when standing in the designated listening areas - few of which are clearly signaled anyway. Adjave's fabric walls and inexplicably kitschy color-codes (presumably defining different sections of the show) frame a completely visual environment in what seems an effort to bend the original multi-sensorial nature of the work into ductile, flat visual matter. Moreover, film works are presented as video projections and intimate home-videos are enlarged to pixelated, grotesque effects.

Installation View, L-R: Ezra Johnson, What Visions Burn, 2006 ; Video; sound 22 minutes 27 seconds
Courtesy of the artist and Nicole Klagsbrun Gallery, New York
Laleh Khorramian, Water Panics in the Sea, 2010; Digital animation; sound; Approx. 10 minutes
Courtesy of the artist and Salon 94, New York 
Maria Lassnig, Maria Lassnig Kantate, 1992; 35mm film transferred to DVD; 8 minutes
Courtesy of the artist and Friedrich Petzel Gallery, New York
Photo: Eric Swanson


A few notable exceptions in this homogenizing spree immediately spring to mind. Federico Solmi's Douche Bag City, for example, is presented as a composite of video game clips in gothic frames. They complement the apocalyptic scenery of the work well, while signaling the artist's interest in the insigna and ritual forms of Catholic religion. Near by, Christine Rebet's amateur Victorian parlor sumptuously hosts a series of enigmatic animations prone to surreal crescendos and hysterical exchanges between future and past. A major work like William Kentridge's Drawing For Projection series (represented here by chapter six: History of the Main Complaint) is fortunately cast in splendid, dark isolation while Martha Colburn's schizophrenic jewel Myth Labs is unexpectedly graced by a real sound system, a necessary measure given the intensity and kick of its improvisational noise-rock soundtrack. The incorporation of historical animation by the Edison Manufacturing Co., Lotte Reiniger, Dziga Vertov and Fleisher Studios is hit-and-miss, succeeding at least in expanding the conceptual framework and scope of the project. Reiniger's 1926 stop motion collage animation film masterpiece The Adventures of Prince Achmed holds a quite unforgiving mirror to Kara Walker's nth sex-and-violence-and-history-and-race shadow play although its hand-made quality and sophisticatedly modest technical details are largely spoiled by the larger than life, gleaming digital video projection it has been converted to.

All in all, The Dissolve suffers from a certain lack of ambition and an exhibition design that neither improves nor really radically changes the experience of the works.

Installation View, L-R: Lotte Reiniger, The Adventures of Prince Achmed, 1926; 35 mm film, black and white/tinted, transferred to DVD; 65 minutes
Courtesy of Milestone Films, Harrington Park, NJ

Oscar Muñoz, Re/trato, 2003; Video; 28 minutes.; Courtesy of the artist and Sicardi Gallery, Houston, Texas
Robin Rhode, Kid Candle(From Memories of Childhood), 2009; Super 8mm film transferred to DVD; 1 minute 3 seconds
Courtesy of the artist and Perry Rubenstein Gallery, New York
Photo: Eric Swanson

Marco Antonini

Marco Antonini is a New York based independent curator and writer. He has collaborated with some of the most reputable organizations in New York, including ISCP, Elizabeth Foundation, LMCC, ISE Foundation, Japan Society, Triangle Arts and the Dumbo Arts Center.

A freelance educator/lecturer at MoMA, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, MoMA PS1 and 3rdWard Design Center, his articles, essays and interviews have been published on Flash Art International, Cura, Whitehot, Museo, BMM, Contemporary, AroundPhotography, Arte&Critica and NYArts. He has lectured on various topics for the Fondazione Bevilacqua La Masa (Venice), Japan Society, ISE Foundation, City College of New York/CUNY and the Rhode Island School of Design.

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