Interface Gallery, Oakland CA
January 2 – February 1, 2015
By LEORA LUTZ, MAR. 2015
The lamp shop is closed and no real lamps are for sale. Inside, it is night all the time. Pools of green tinted light pour over vignettes of vintage glass lamp covers arranged in stacks and in a variety of configurations on the floor, on wooden side tables and on narrow shallow shelves attached to the walls. The clear and white orbs, ovals and faceted globes glimmer—refracting and reflecting the artificial night-time lighting. A ticking, resonating tone like a metal spoon tapping a glass bowl starts out sparsely and then quickens to a crescendo of rapid beats before going silent. Then the ticking tone starts again. This is the scene in Carrie Hott’s installation for her solo show, After-Hour at Interface Gallery in Oakland.
Usually the gallery is brightly lit with a small skylight and a large roll up glass door. The architecture of the intimate 300 some odd square foot space includes one naturally aged red brick wall and a big antique door. The limited amount of white walls makes the space conducive for installation and experimental projects rather than formal exhibitions of two dimensional works. The gallery is located in Temescal Alley in Oakland, which are converted horse stable. The alley is an enclave of workshops and retail spaces boasting hand made goods, including (amongst other things) an old-school barber shop, small batch ice cream, locally crafted home accessories, a rare plant nursery, herbal apothecary, a synthesizer refurbishing shop and a carefully curated book store.
Taking the architecture and the location into account, Hott constructed a fictitious store of her own imagining for her exhibition, housing conceptual sculpture and sound focusing on her continued investigation with light. For almost five years, Hott has been investigating light’s history and light emanating objects, such as lamps. Recently she has been researching black outs. In an email exchange she explained, “I've been following this meandering path of artificial light, blackouts, and the web of social experiences of each form. Artificial light can be an organizer, while blackouts can be an equalizer.” After-Hour focuses on light at night as social exchange.
Hott looks at the concept of “after hours” as a time for recuperation, decompression, and folks have all punched out their time cards at work and headed for late night shenanigans and misadventures. These social experiences form the basis for Hott’s investigations with behavior, patterns and the relationships that arise around the night and its flattering and shadowy luminescence, particularly the things that happen after work. The sound piece installed in the exhibition is a tactile reminder of a time clock. Hott explained, “It was important to make a tactile experience in the space by adding the sense of hearing. Musician Laura Steenberge and I recorded it together. We wanted to create a distinct rhythm with the sound that would evoke a timer or clock. We thought about what the lamps might do on their own "after hours" and the sounds they would make.” Here, Hott is alluding to the life of a lame as analogous to its users. Her practice playfully pushes the limits of use by using the lamps as instruments: “I used a small wood bar as a gong, and Laura used a bow to play lamps like string instruments. One night, we recorded each lamp sound individually under blue lights in my studio. The final piece is a loop that consists of irregular rhythmic gongs and a climax (or alarm) every five minutes, layered with sounds of the bow gliding on the glass and lamps hitting each other or rubbing together.” The clumsy clanking seems symbolic of humans’ interaction with each other, echoed in the touching made to generate the sound.
A couple of weeks after the opening, Hott hosted an After-Hour Happy Hour. The lighting for the exhibition was changed from green to red, which changed the atmosphere from shop to speak easy, imparting a seedy, covert vibe, conjuring vintage red vinyl seating, glitzy costume jewelry and cheap perfume. The Campari, bitters and tangerine “happy hour” cocktail was not only delicious, the recipe and color of the drink complemented the scene. The evening event also included a zine titled Hour After Reader, printed by COLPA Press with support from the gallery. The design and color of the zine was also carefully considered: bright goldenrod cover with red text and images throughout. The contents are created by 28 “after-hour” artists—meaning, artists that work on their practice after they come home from their day job.
In general Hott’s heavily based research process involves reading and studying various points of interest and then beginning to form connections that later become visual compositions, sculpture, installation or writing projects. These meanderings send her on a path that oftentimes becomes a rhizomatic coil of information, with strands of content leading from one link to another. Predominantly installations, her projects invite looking and contemplation so that viewers can begin to formulate connections and revisit history with a focused lens. Hott invites viewers to form renewed takes on the obscure or obsolete subjects that she presents. The work, be it objects, writings, presentations or collaborative zines becomes a new archive or cabinet of curiosities for the history generated content. It is a way to revisit things and ideas in the present moment. Specifically, After-Hour reflects upon the space and time between work and play, between day and night and the night’s generative and contemplative moments.
More of Carrie Hott’s work can be viewed here: http://www.carriehott.com
Leora Lutz is an artist, writer and educator based in the San Francisco Bay Area. Her art practice stems from a conceptual framework with a desire to bring ritual and routine closer together. She is a regular art writer and critic for several national and global publications both online and in print as well as the author of published exhibition essays and research papers.
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