text by Richard Haden
Scuffling my way across the sandlot floor, I take another lap through Spinello Projects to get my bearings. Today is Sunday afternoon which means that today is not the usual day to wax metaphysical, at an art gallery opening. Yet an art gallery always has the potential to transform into a sacred space, and this place, this exhibition has like any cathedral, on any given Sunday, become a place where the visual resonates with ethereal spirit and thought provoking mixes of ritualized curiosities.
After a couple of laps through the gallery, I pass through the entrance, again–against the grain of the usual flow this time. I am looking for those entities that make the most visual noise. While I pause for a look at an installed opaque convex port hole assisting light passage to the next room, I again come upon a displaced arching triangular relic of a dysfunctional child’s swing, hanging high overhead. The swing is titled “Gentle Collapse” which has become involuntarily anchored to a two story wall, sealing its stance into a locking pose while forcing the drifting apparatus into the vault of time. However, before the wall sealed its fate I stood there for the moment, this time, “in search of lost time”, in “remembrance of things past”.
Once again I Shuffle atop the sandy floor beneath the arch and pass by the stretched out swing, lying prostrate on the floor, when a moment later I make my way past a stalled group of nubile patrons casting pale shadows over castings of concrete pillows supporting a readymade slide–while still caressing superficially, with adroit hand and eye, the titillating nature of how aggravatingly clever the faux apparition and real combine. This paring is titled “Sleep Sweeper”. From here I make my way towards an unplanned destination where I meet a curiously ghosting form waiting in the lurch on top of a sprung [M]ortal coil.
However inconsequent it is at first its greying silhouetted presence deceivingly breaks the flow of nostalgic comfort towards an obstinately stubborn material denying the luxury of blissful regress. The once familiar form–a toy horse sprung–turned and titled “Spring Rider” concrete, distributes an uncanny concrete mood détourning the once faint but fond childhood memory into re-calibrated trouble hardened with time that reminds me of those lost growing pains fawned by coming of age strife upended by the pendulum of time, disturbing the sleep of the once immemorable.
Put in poetic motion by the passing hand–
the work, becomes a lifeless yet animated talisman, sprung atop its coil before me, radiating a sense of danger and burden, while that sense of every day struggle to be carried or abandoned,
is echoed in my mind, most famously by the phrase, “shuffled off this mortal coil” from the “To be, or not to be”, a soliloquy in Shakespeare’s Hamlet.
All things in this exhibition, are sparsely placed and located to an estranged position where we refocus our gaze at the dysfunctional but functional ontics of things still actively bearing an emanating non-conventional experience tangled with memories not normally wrestled with–at least not physically. This obfuscating concrete biomorphic form, fluctuating in front of me–this thing that used to be…is countered by its isomorphic doubling twin titled “Spring Rider” transparent–the presence of which is strategically placed diagonally across the room dividing the indexed space into a countering presence while siting upon its own identical Mortal coil.
Yet this time, the work–the translucent sprung miniature hoarse is light hearted and fosters a whimsical apparition, unlike its troubled sibling–the concretized Spector of the first. This one is cast from the same mold, no doubt, as the other literally and metaphorically, while simultaneously they are double bound to echo, through another, a kind of transparency towards the authentic from which all difference is cast back to the absolute of all intangible creation–to argue perhaps the pointless relevance of which one came first.
Competing with this duo of sprung equine is an assortment of ectoplasmic renderings that hang faintingly on the walls of this floor and the next. These works, are a series titled, “Floaters”. They capture an incorporeal specter attempting to escape the burdening frames of mortality. These ghosting benevolent skinned wannabe disembodied fluidities speak as bulging tricksters and share along a visual trajectory of the kindred spirited recuperation of Roland Barthes’ seminal essay titled “Death of the Author” translated here–as a homage to the death of the auteur, the fabricator, or maker, the artist and so on–translating Barthes’ essay, into a beautiful visual analogy which argues along the same line: That reading these works according to the simplistic intentions and biographical context of the author is a mistake that forces a limited and fixed interpretation of text [or] in this case, forces a vacuous interpretation of three dimensional works.
For “works” and “creator” are not to be interlocked into a singular interpretation. Instead we look for layering subtext and sub-terrestrial excavations rather than limiting ourselves to the persona or specific intentions of the maker. This way we escape the trappings of limited “narrative tyranny” (Erich Auerbach).
Johnny Robles’s presence is not made active in this exhibition any more than the rest of ours is. We see and make empty foot prints in the sand, as well we all know that most of us likewise meet with the same equipment in this exhibition, while growing up. All of this leads approximately to the same conclusion: There is no particular trumpeted interpretation authorized here. Yet their is perhaps the faint glow of a positive charge that catalyzes a collective sense of shared community–a community once lived but not necessarily lost–a community spirit calling out for the return of a childhood, a childlike communalist phenomenon.
Taking for granted the beautiful work that sits here on common ground, we are given the opportunity to bear witness to a contemporary notion–a sustainable notion that haunts this scared space, this Sunday afternoon. The spirit exhibited here seeks to encourage a breaking away from the traditional meeting between old school subject object dichotomies. Instead we are provoked to take an alternative route, a route by which we avoid the alienating internalization of aestheticized disinterestedness by shuffling around the trappings of old school episteme away from the consumption of art fetish–to make a left turn past self-centered narcissism, to arrive, once again at a shared perspective, activated by our actions in this social space that is benevolently haunted by externalized forces that expel recuperated cliches and commodified nostalgia–thus creating the condition from which an aroused desire to start all over again arises.
Richard Haden is an artist based in Miami.