AFTERGLOW X TWINART
Melissa Morgan Fine Art, Palm Desert, California
April 7 through May 13, 2023
By LORIEN SUAREZ-KANERVA, April 2023
AFTERGLOW X TWINART opened on April 7th and runs through May 13th at Melissa Morgan Fine Art Gallery in Palm Desert, California. The exhibition includes Tuned-in and Tuned-out Mashups from the 1980-2023 collection by Emmy award-winning, bi-coastal identical twins Ellen and Lynda Kahn’s work. Their geometric abstraction includes elements of typography, and symbols, and appropriates day-to-day objects along with found materials. TwinArt itself constitutes the fruition of the artists’ interconnected conceptual evolution to enhouse collaborative creative work aligned with their twin identity.
Ellen and Lynda spoke of an understanding based on a natural kindred knowledge that transcended each as a partnership while upholding their individuality. Mixed Doubles offer a stenciled collective of multi-sized dots as a framework with tennis doubles’ balls as pro forma identifiers.
Twin sculptures Look a Like 1 & 2 appear as dual-tiered complexes. Though mirror-like, each sculpture holds similar and dissimilar elements that complement their linkages. Conceptually, domestic items like dishes and trade-related objects like crates are representative of modern-day totems. Feminism’s appropriation of the all-encompassing arts, including ceramics, and the advent of Andy Warhol’s legacy in the arts fomented linkages with mass media and advertising.
TwinArt is an active party of this timeline. Totemic digital paintings #ifeelyou, #iseeyou, and #ihearyou forage towards a collective horizon. Graphic design elements and collaged photographic imagery point towards dichotomies of time. The snapshots are momentary. As Triptychs, an ongoing sensorial exploration reveals aspects of TwinArt’s process and media.
From 1987 to 1992 with Polaroid Corporation’s sponsorship, TwinArt created numerous 20X24 multi-exposure images. MMFA’s gallery exhibition featured video freeze frames of collaged imagery taken from magazine advertisements and applied color gels. The AfterGlow effect of the light-boxes brought to mind philosopher Jane Bennett’s description of vibrant materiality – “All forces and flows (materialities) are or can become lively, affective, and signaling. And so, an affective, speaking human body is not radically different from the affective, signaling nonhumans with which it coexists, hosts, enjoys, serves, consumes, produces, and competes.”
Ellen and Lynda addressed deeper questions in contemporary art particular to their art-forms as participants in film and image-making’s historical development as a genre.
LSK: What are you currently working on as artists?
Lynda: For decades we have collected lenticular photographs and are now beginning a new project using this technology to explore identity, connection, and empathy that we began in our latest works #iseeyou, #ihearyou, #ifeelyou.
Ellen: We are in the concept stage for new lens-based media and looking forward to working with music and sound, building on the After Glow experience.
LSK: Given your work within fields of art that straddle both a commercial interest and application, how did you find your creative light to define your voices?
Ellen: Andy Warhol paved the way for our art trajectory. In NYC in the early 70s, we would go to screenings of his films and began making our own short films. At the start of cable television 1978-82 Glenn O’Brien’s TV Party and Warhol T.V. sparked our attention. We developed our art brand TwinArt as a corporate entity - not unlike Warhol branding The Factory. Our early videos from 1979-82 became instant hits in the art world internationally screening at museums, galleries, clubs, and festivals and we traveled with them lecturing.
MTV launched in 1982 and artists already directing videos were desirable to the music labels and many opportunities came our way. Our commercial careers took off and provided us with access to state-of-the-art technology and the entree into a broad media landscape. We started using a layered complexity in the work that coincided with art and commercial applications. Nam June Paik, our mentor, appreciated our satire, inviting us to collaborate with him on Bye Bye Kipling. Humor and wit prevail in our work while tackling subjects with purpose that feel akin to our beings: feminism and environmental concerns are at the top of our list. In the time period of the late 70s - early 80s, The Pictures Generation emerged dealing with subjects in popular culture. Barbara Kruger, Martha Rosler, Dara Birnbaum, Cindy Sherman, and Laurie Simmons’ work also centered on everyday life with an eye toward the women’s experience, advertising, and media.
Lynda: The first time I realized the connection between ART + TELEVISION was in the fall of 1968 with the Schrafft’s Underground Sundae by Andy Warhol. Ellen and I were on Long Island in high school living 40 minutes from Manhattan. We embraced modern and pop art. It was fun and colorful while at the same time commenting on the world we lived in. The visuals were in contrast to the dark side with Nixon, Viet Nam, and illegal abortion - Sex, Drugs, and Rock’n’ Roll - the messaging of the artists including Warhol, Johns, Rauschenberg, and Oldenburg was everywhere, resonating and subversive in all media (posters, magazine ads, and television). This time in history had a huge impact on where we are today as artists.
Instant This/Instant That, photo still from video, 1979.
LSK: Do you conceptually regard your creative work as an ethos within a real-life journey signaling a path and vision as artists within art history and the arts today?
Ellen: The contrast of the momentary and timeless and our team’s twin language within the context of our expression manifest themselves as TwinArt.
Lynda: We always embrace communication with a wide audience - why limit ourselves? Our mantra is MIM Make It Memorable.
In Instant This/Instant That, a 1979 video photo still, potentially of note would be the subjects’ passivity. Feminist works like Barbara Kruger’s We Won’t play nature to your culture (1983) posits the historical context. The author of Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema, Mary Kelly reflected on feminism’s influence on Contemporary art. “By transforming the phenomenological presence of the body into an image of sexual difference, extending the interrogation of the object to include the subjective conditions of its existence, turning political intent into personal accountability, and translating institutional critique into the question of authority,” TwinArt’s work is part-of, and party-to, the evolution Kelly described.
AFTERGLOW X TWINART gallery exhibit of video and photography, multimedia paintings along with sculptural found object assemblages act as virtual time-keepers. Both present and unfolding, multisensory awareness feeds from our senses through their distinctive art language. Combining color, form, and motion, their body of work creates an all-encompassing feel-good AfterGlow that is alight with the possibility of an idyllic perpetual form of instantaneous sensorial fulfillment. WM
As a Geometric Abstract artist, Lorien Suárez-Kanerva explores the dynamic interplay of color, light, and geometric patterns found in nature and the cosmos. A Retrospective of Lorien’s work titled “Coalescing Geometries” won First Place in Non-Fiction at the 2019 International Latino Book Awards. She has exhibited in several curated solo and group shows in NYC, Los Angeles, and Miami. Her artwork appears at International Art Fairs and educational centers including Florida Atlantic University, Boca Raton Museum of Art, and UC Berkeley’s Engineering Department. Lorien resides in Palm Desert, California.view all articles from this author