Shotgun Review

Super Twilight

By Melissa Miller March 24, 2013

Calen Barca-Hall’s Hole in One installation, the centerpiece of Incline Gallery’s exhibition Super Twilight, turns a viewer into a contemporary Sisyphus. From the top of the gallery, which is made up of a series of sloping halls, Barca-Hall’s putt-putt course presents a visitor with a wealth of options to get her golf ball to the hole at the bottom level. As the ball passes through the gallery, which Barca-Hall has lined with Astroturf and brightly colored obstacles and railings, one might revel in the chance to get the coveted hole in one, racing down the ramps to wait and see, as the ball rolls through a series of tracks and pipes. When the ball hits the bottom, one can pick it up and wind one's way back to the top to try again.

In becoming conscious of the parallel between playing additional rounds and continually performing the same task on a virtual march toward death, it might be easy to succumb to a sense of tragedy. But, as Albert Camus proclaims, these moments are spaces for joy: “Happiness and the absurd are two sons of the same earth. They are inseparable.”2 According to the philosopher, during Sisyphus’s descent down the hill, he reflects on all the choices and events in his life that led him to his fate. It is in this recognition that Sisyphus finds his joy, knowing that his rock is his own, not a punishment from the gods but an end he created for himself.

Barca-Hall’s Hole in One course features movable fixtures, allowing visitors to change the path of the rolling golf ball. Participants must choose the route they believe will lead to the hole in one. As they repeatedly tee off, frustration kicks in. Barca-Hall’s comment on the daily grind of everyday life is masked through the metaphor of play. The artist reminds his audience that, just as Camus’s Sisyphus finds joy in owning his decisions and their consequences, they must take pleasure in their actions despite perceived failures.

 

Calen Barca-Hall

Calen Barca-Hall. Hole in One, 2013; mixed media; dimensions variable. Courtesy of the Artist.

Sisyphus does not simply push the stone up the mountain, waiting for the moment of relief on the march down. Similarly, Barca-Hall asks viewers to revel in the challenges Hole in One presents them, extending this outlook to their day-to-day struggles.

 

Super Twilight is on view at Incline Gallery, in San Francisco, through April 12, 2013.

Notes

  1. Albert Camus, The Myth of Sisyphus (Harmondsworth, England: Penguin, 1975).

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