Our commodity-driven culture is filled with physical representations of ideologies, where objects become embodiments of memory and merit. As we are drawn to tangible, physical materials and the illusion of permanence, we often miss experiences that present themselves in impermanent and intangible ways; in unnoticed spaces, in the grey areas of our memory, or in the tension or fluidity of movement. The ephemeral and fleeting nature of these experiences may make them less discernible, yet they are no less authentic.
Many artists are now seeking to highlight an appreciation of transience, where their works of art shift from objects of representation to communicative acts, exploring liminal spaces, changing/evolving materials and the incorporation of chance. The Ephemeral, The Evolving showcases three artists who explore time as subject matter, using it to affect change in their work.
Linda Swanson, in her work “Osmogenesis III”, uses natural raw earth materials and water to simulate a geologic landscape. Water drips onto the work and reacts with the clay material, expanding and contracting it in a way not unlike the natural arena the materials came from. In so doing, Swanson harnesses the slowness of geologic time and presents an opportunity for us to consider it in relation to our own awareness of time.
In her works “Saltation” and “Suspension”, Joyce Ogden also uses natural materials such as sand and soil; however, she explores the measurement of time in its most raw sense. The shape of the mounds of sand as it drains through the hourglass forms is the physical embodiment of a duration of time. Ogden uses this process to show the result of time past. As the fleeting nature of time is re-imagined in physical form, we are encouraged to consider the very act of measuring time.
In contrast to the visceral materials used by Ogden and Swanson, Courtney Kessel’s “In Balance With” shows us the emotive weight of raising a child. Straightforward and deliberate, Kessel balances her own weight against that of her daughter, Chloe, and a collection of her possessions. Activated through performance, Kessel uses the seesaw to measure time on a human scale, as the work evolves based on the changes Chloe is undertaking as she matures. Kessel’s performance culminates with the artist sitting alone on one side of the seesaw, facing her daughter, balancing the weight of her offspring and her possessions. The seesaw exists in the gallery, then, as a relic of this act, inviting us to consider time in the context of a human life.
Together, these artists entice us to examine what time is, how it produces change, and how it alters our sense of purpose and place.
Courtney Kessel, performing her work, In Balance With in the Barr Gallery …