In Case You Missed It: Wet Sample


In Case You Missed It: Wet Sample

By Petra Bibeau October 7, 2015

In the collaborative work of David Ohlsson and Dit-Cilinn, the physical environment and the installation activate a unique dichotomy. The physical embodiment of Wet Sample, their exhibition at Stable Invocation, deep within the backwoods of Santa Rosa in a vacant horse stable, proved more of a necessity rather than an enigma for the work.

(from left to right) Ohlsson/Dit-Cilinn. Terratrope, 2015; aluminum, tuning fork, silicone, wood, rubber; 3 x 4 x 27 cm. Wet Sample, 2015; swamp water, plants, plastic, amoebas; 10 x 10 x 20 cm. Courtesy of the Artists and Stable Invocation.

In the one-day-only exhibition at artist Jeremy Ehling's project space, the work of Amsterdam-based artists Ohlsson and Dit-Cilinn (known collaboratively as Ohlsson/Dit-Cilinn) offered a truncated introduction to their obsession with binaries, and the essential push and pull of elemental forces in polarity.

Most of Ohlsson/Dit-Cilinn's work uses nature to represent the human perception of existence. The example seen with the eponymously titled Wet Sample (2015) imparts swamp water, plants, plastic, and amoebas as a metaphor for the sameness shared by human life and any nonhuman comparative existence. The sculpture, made predominantly of found materials, features a green-tinted plastic jug with the mouthpiece cut off. The jug contains water and plant life grows out of the top. The roots of the plant equally flourish or die in its manufactured case of nourishment, in the same way as a human life. Here the evidence of difference between the natural and the human is circumstantial, and moreso based on selective perception.

Ohlsson/Dit-Cilinn. Terratrope, 2015; aluminum, tuning fork, silicone, wood, rubber; 3 x 4 x 27 cm. Courtesy of the Artists and Stable Invocation.

The sculpture Terratrope (2015) works with a similar contrast. It consists of an aluminum tuning fork intertwined with a black silicon slug, offering a visual contradiction in the placement of two contrasting objects together. The tuning fork, a human-made object of structure and perfection, suggests control, while the slug, representative of the earth, suggests the feral law of nature. This tension in the balance of the two discordant worlds is where Ohlsson/Dit-Cilinn’s work tends to exist.

The further one reflects on the contrasting pairing of the sculptures, the more curious it seems that each would benefit the other, if at all. It becomes evident that Ohlsson/Dit-Cilinn are working with narrative constructions, subtly allowing the two worlds a harmonious coexistence. The message suggests that most of what we perceive as living is dependent on our push against organic matter’s unchangeable forms.

In a single dark wood stall set directly off of the main outdoor exhibition space was a large, flat-screen monitor playing Ohlsson/Dit-Cilinn’s video Crawl (2015) on loop. 

Ohlsson/Dit-Cilinn. Crawl, 2015 (still); video loop, sound by Simon Ohlsson. Courtesy of the Artists and Stable Invocation.

The black tar creature in the video work Crawl (2015) is positioned in a bright white room. It lunges forward, though sparsely moving and panting, seemingly always on the brink of leaping forward. The creature is somehow on pause yet continually presenting a moment of anxiety in the viewer of something that will arrive next. This sense of agenda suggests an urgent tension and inquiry: Is it an alternative future, or set deep in the past? Is it a dream or nightmare? Any understanding or markers of time or place are completely devoid in Crawl, allowing viewers to create their own conclusion of where they are in relation to the video. Since Crawl uses video instead of sculpture, the primal imagery in the work allows a clearer dichotomy than the two sculptures that are less visually aggressive. Crawl speaks to the fundamental balance between nature and humanity at its core, while the sculptures hint at structural fallacies once human assertion has been evoked.

 As a short exhibition of three works, Wet Sample satisfies the need to compare and contrast by keeping the show selection and exhibition space completely unassuming.


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Wet Sample is on view at Stable Invocation, through September 13, 2015.

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