Gesture/Fragment/Trace

Shotgun Review

Gesture/Fragment/Trace

By Anton Stuebner September 17, 2015

Fragments occur at points of fissure and prove that something has shattered, seemingly irreparably. But they can also function as unique traces that generate their own meaning outside of their original contexts. These tensions between breakage and generation recur throughout Gesture/Fragment/Trace at Interface Gallery. The installation-based and mixed-media works on view expand upon the fragment’s metaphorical associations to explore larger questions around artistic process, the use value of objects, and commemoration.

Sean Talley’s graphite drawings and steel sculptures, for example, utilize minimal abstraction to hold a lively dialogue about process. Just as Talley’s twisted steel rods become stranger upon consideration of the physical effort needed to form their smooth, articulated shapes, so too does his playful transliteration of the sculptures’ bent and curved lines into a pair of graphite drawings obscure the painstaking composition of those works. Talley’s intensive technique is evident only through his accompanying text, and the emphasis here on process over product underscores more fundamental questions about how knowledge of a work’s pretext―or lack thereof―either informs or fragments a viewer’s mode of encounter.

Dana Hemenway. Untitled (Object Mounts), 2015; silicone, urethane, plaster, brass, and steel object mounts borrowed from the Oakland Museum of California, boltless storage shelf, wood; 36 x 60 x 30 in. Courtesy of the Artist and Interface Gallery.

Dana Hemenway’s polymer casts of metal museum mounts evoke similarly playful forms. Rendered in brightly hued urethane and silicone, their whimsically slack and coiled shapes echo Talley’s freeform lines. Context, though, is imperative again, and in noting that the original metal mounts were borrowed from the Oakland Museum of California, Hemenway positions these strangely amorphous forms against complex histories of archival practices, her choice of such impractical materials rendering them “useless” for exhibition purposes while giving them new life as aesthetic objects.

Rebeca Bollinger’s installation Still Life with Fly Swatters and Holes (2015) also considers the lives of objects. The juxtaposition between unfinished ceramic surfaces and junked, everyday materials―plastic strawberries, Ziploc bags, crumpled photographs, clothespins―suggests challenging metaphors for the dissolution of a life’s ephemera. Bollinger’s work, however, resists interpretation because the stuff of memory is so private and singular that it can appear stubbornly opaque to an outside viewer. Similarly, the critical conversations at play in Gesture/Fragment/Trace occasionally seem disjointed. This tenuousness, however, is the exhibition’s strength. While in discordant concert with one another, Talley, Hemenway, and Bollinger are still given room to define their practices on their own terms. 

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gesture/fragment/trace is on view at Interface Gallery, in

Oakland

, through September 20, 2015.

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