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September 2011, Summer Time Blues @ Fredric Snitzer


Jacin Giordano, My God, it's Full of Stars, 2008
Acrylic, blanket & glitter on wood, 60" x 96"
Courtesy of the artist and Fredric Snitzer


Summer Time Blues
Fredric Snitzer Gallery
2247 NW 1st Place
Miami, FL 33127
August 3 through September 5, 2011

Summertime means phonebook thick issues of arts magazines, all slick with suntan oil, and laissez faire group shows. For Summer Time Blues, the Fredric Snitzer gallery channels the spirit of Eddie Cochran by showing a gallery full of work that is blue. But the usage of blue is not the same as Eddie’s, who used the color to symbolize the total bummer of having to get a job, not having a car, etc. Instead, the show at Snitzer focuses on the color itself, and thus makes Summer Time Blues a study in surfaces, in superficiality.

As Jacques Rancière points out, “the surface has not been a boundary, isolating the purity of an art, but, rather, a place of slippage between various spaces.” By dividing a space between inside and out, by reflecting and refracting light, a surface, especially one that sparkles in the sun, is cause for a multitude of responses, none of them shallow. Take, for instance, Loriel Beltran’s Hurricane Patterns, 2010 series, which shows the brilliant facades of office buildings patched with sheets of plywood after Hurricane Wilma knocked out some windows.

These photographs, ripe in their Marxist schadenfreude, reveal the depth and the resilient opacity of the surfaces that surround us. As glass structures, these buildings are supposed to be transparent, but the glare is blinding, creating a wall between those inside the system that they represent and those looking up from outside. This looking up is important. These are not front-on typologies in the tradition of the Bechers. Rather, they metaphorically involve the hierarchy of site as a will to power. The visual device of establishing the depth of field stretching from high to low instead of from front to back is simple and propagandistic, best used by Rodchenko in his photograph of the towering peasant girl, but it gets the point across. By looking up at an opaque structure, we are inherently below and outside.

Speaking of opacity, it is telling that beneath one surface lies another. Even when a catastrophic event fractures the façade of a structure, transparency only lasts for a brief moment before another barrier patches the rift. (It should be mentioned that Hurricane Wilma came six weeks after Katrina). So while nominally being about the surfaces of the contemporary city, Beltran’s Hurricane Patterns series cleverly reveals the tension between sensitivity and resilience central to the underlying structures of the system.

 


Loriel Beltran, Hurricane Patterns 1, 2010
Lambda Print, 17 5/8" x 21" w x 1 1/2" d, 1/3 + 1 AP
Courtesy of the artist and Fredric Snitzer

Also commenting on the disintegration of the surface is Sean Dack’s Alpine Trees (Alpine Circle), 2007. Taken from Dack’s Glitch series, in which he digitally manipulates photographs to reduce their fidelity, the work comments on the fragility of our pixilated system of vision. The bucolic landscape is marred by dead pixels that form a new variety of digital perspective. The further we are removed from a landscape, the more distorted it becomes. However, this distortion is not caused by depth but rather by the endless replication of surface. Dack’s series comments on the ubiquity of the digital image and its ability to alter patterns of perception, but he does so in a way that reveals these images as essentially anti-spectacular-small, dull, and lifeless.

Not the case with Luis Gispert’s Super Stratto, 2011. The photograph of the empty cockpit of a military jet, overlooking a brilliant sunset, is both politically and aesthetically overwhelming. It is a nice example of the covert sublime, a term recently coined by Pamela Lee to describe the overwhelming in the presence of the military industrial complex. The viewer is flooded by the implications of these views, which simultaneously present the external and the internal, the withheld perspective and the public. It’s Caspar David Friedrich for an era of reaper drones and predawn raids. In seeing Super Stratto, one realizes that the tops of the clouds were first witnessed from a spy plane.

Unwittingly, a show loosely curated around a color and a season realizes the political multivalences of the surface, both its tenacity and its negation. And a study of superficiality is never without cause in South Florida. The bluest piece on display, Jacin’s Giordano’s My God, it’s Full of Stars, 2008, is a delightful bit of camp midstep between Yves Klein and some divorcee’s divan. Giordano slumped a blanket over a piece of wood, then drowned it in blue paint and glitter. The result captures pure color and glitz, but also reveals a pervasive decay of form, with the surface seeming to collapse upon itself. Social allegory or not, it’s getting a response. When I went to visit, the assistant director of the gallery quipped that, “every lady that comes through the door wants to know where to get a dress made of the fabric.”


Luis Gispert, Super Stratto, 2011
C-Print, 48" x 77", Edition of 6
Courtesy of the artist and Fredric Snitzer


Sean Dack, Alpine Trees (Arctic Circle), 2007
C-print, 43.5" x 29.75"
Courtesy of the artist and Fredric Snitzer

Hunter Braithwaite


Hunter Braithwaite is a Miami-based writer and founder of Thereisnothere.org. His work has been featured on Artforum.com, Cnn.com, Artinfo.com, and Artslant.com. Additionally, he is a contributing editor of Asian Art News.

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