Shotgun Review

Zachary Royer Scholz: Tape, Paint, Repaint

By Elyse Mallouk September 15, 2010

Using a hallway’s not-quite-right angles and a three-stage process as a pair of constraints, Zachary Royer Scholz’s changing installation in Baer Ridgeway’s Hallway Project Space considers the ordinariness of experience and its passing, and the accidental bright flashes in an over-determined pattern.

Scholz used painters’ tape to trace the utilitarian protrusions on the hallway’s brick walls and ceiling: fire extinguisher, elevator button, exit sign, florescent light fixture. Halfway through the exhibition, the walls were painted and the tape removed, inverting the colors: bright blue tape became white space, white walls grayish-blue paint. When the show closes the markings will be painted over.

A pair of choices—of ordinary fixtures and a temporal arc—combine to formulate the show’s central argument: that to exist is to stand in-between, pending, even if everything feels stable and the future predictable. The progression is simple enough: plan, execute, destroy—up, across, down—beginning, middle, end. So are the objects. They are all things we use: tools for lighting a space, for moving through it, for escaping from it. It’s what happens when the two patterns collide that makes the show more than a set of executed plans. 

At times, the tracings of mundane wall markings are determinedly mundane. But there are a few moments in which the lines can be seen diverging from forced imitation, arching away from their source shapes and warping a bit at the edges. The process of tracing is about following a trajectory that is predetermined, but it’s also about a kind of built-in deviation. The walls are uneven, and this irregularity becomes visible as lines reverberate from the objects they mimic and collide with those emanating from the banal object adjacent to them. Accidents become commitments when filled in with paint. The things themselves stay put, but the striations around them undergo an inversion and eventual obfuscation.

Zachary Royer Scholz, Tape, Paint, Repaint, installation detail. Courtesy the Artist and Baer Ridgeway Exhibitions, San Francisco.

The show’s temporality keeps it from being a simple meditation on the everyday/overlooked, and draws it toward a more arresting question: is there space for agency after a pattern has been set? The experience of its interesting in-between-ness relies on repeat viewing. Nothing inherent in the space suggests that the lines have been changed from tape to paint, or that this change was part of the show. There is an invitation to consider: is this experience one worth repeating? Is a blip in the pattern possible, and is it worth re-viewing to see?


Tape, Paint, Repaint is on view at Baer Ridgeway Exhibitions through October 16, 2010.

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