Sol LeWitt, Barbara Probst, James Welling, Lucinda Childs, Mark Lewis, Philip Glass, and Susan Howe

May 17, 2010 – Jun 30, 2010
Opening: May 17, 2010, 18:00

Press release

TO A DEGREE, RATIONAL* features the work of Barbara Probst, James Welling, Lucinda Childs, Sol LeWitt, Philip Glass, Susan Howe and Mark Lewis. The exhibition includes photography, film, choreography, drawing and an artist book that question the classic promise of visual perception: a single, fixed, frontal point of view. In the work of Barbara Probst, who uses photography to deliver sequences shot simultaneously with a radio-controlled device, the image appears to imply a narrative. While the images might look like individual frames shot over time, these images don’t comply to the filter of time. Probst’s work is based on concepts associated with sculpture, creating an event that happens in space and not in time as is often the convention in photography. This discrepancy between time and space prompts the viewer to requestion what is seen.

For James Welling, a pivotal group of nearly monochromatic photographs cause a physical shift between the subject of the image: a drape, and the viewer’s perception that an unaccountable event has happened. The alteration in this case is felt as an optical and physical altercation between the subject and the viewer’s expectation that photography is about truth. Welling unhinges photography from its bind to the documentary or photo journalism where the medium has often been housed.

In a remarkable collaborative work titled DANCE, first performed in 1979, choreographed by Lucinda Childs, with music by Philip Glass and a projected film by artist Sol LeWitt, real time and film time are collapsed. It was the first and only film directed by Sol LeWitt. For the exhibition, a video projection will be accompanied by rarely seen drawings, scores, letters and photographs that give a stunning look at the visual and choreographic work of Lucinda Childs and Sol LeWitt and their powerful collaboration with composer Philip Glass. The film, drawings and photographs will be seen for the first time in Italy.DANCE opens with a simple premise and then becomes incredibly complex as the relationships between upstage and downstage, present history and past history are equally put into question. When LeWitt’s film appears, the filmed dancers from 1979 have both a ghost-like resonance and a powerful sense of immediacy, seeming to contradict the live, contemporary performance. The viewer straddles past, present and future. The Lewitt artist book will be shown.

The photographs and films of Mark Lewis use rear projection to release the viewer from a traditional dependency on a single point of view and the need to intepret rather than perceive. In splitting his films into two spatial frames: using both rear projection and classic action, Lewis allows the viewer to become the lens through which a visual convergence is seamlessly fused. While early Hollywood directors used rear projection as a cost-effective way to shoot, (it was cheaper to shoot a road scene as rear projection than) other directors, notably Alfred Hitchcock used rear projection as a new visual language to cause the viewer to doubt the veracity of a narrative. For Lewis, the use of rear projection comes out of Hitchcock’s ground-breaking concepts.

In addition to works installed in the gallery, a special evening program at Galleria Gentili will offer a double feature of Lewis’ short documentary feature, Back Story that looks at the vanishing of rear projection technology along with a classic 1950 black and white film,Woman on the Run, starring Ann Sheridan and Dennis O’Keefe that used rear screen projection.

The work of Susan Howe, functions as both poetry and visual montage/collage, appearing here in an unusual collaborative project with photographer James Welling in their limited edition book, Frolic Architecture. Howe dispenses with the hierarchy of language and its visual structure. The book will be shown in the exhibition as a bound limited edition as well as a series of prints that feature the photographs of James Welling and Susan Howe’s poems. The poems were written in reaction to the writings of Jonathan Edwards, a leading American theologian and philosopher born in 1703, as well as the writings of his sister Hannah Edwards, and also Ovid and Hawthorne. Edwards’ manuscripts offer an unusual early American example of a visual structure that employed multiple points of view. In nearly eliminating recognizable language, Howe’s work functions as visual equivalent to a camera shutter held open or snapped closed. The title for the exhibition, TO A DEGREE, RATIONAL comes from a line in a Susan Howe poem that appears in Frolic Architecture.

* Courtesy Susan Howe, Dal poema nel Frolic Architecture, scritto da Susan Howe, 2009.