The sound of the slide projector is regular and dependable in the space: constant fan cools the motor, a mechanical shift and drop of each slide, one sound over the other, again and again. This mechanical action that is attendant to old fashion projectors changes my understanding of light, and for me the beam has presence on its journey to the wall, as heat, and as intent.
The slide images in Jibade-Khalil Huffman’s The End of the New World are full of colors and angles, and the images from the three projectors often collide and make increasingly complicated patterns. The complication that Huffman makes is unlike cell growth – which goes only one way, toward denser complexity – and is more like stasis, or balance. The carrels are filled partly and empty slots make areas of void. These voids moderate the growth, and in fact rebuke the notion of growth, with their moments of blinding white laid over color, and then only shocking white and then total black.
Hmm. Thinking of Huffman’s title, The End of the New World, and thinking that the assumption of growth underlays everything we do in this world (whether it be New or old), I wonder whether there is room to view this work as a political statement? It would be nice if the future was colorful and interesting, rather than exciting. The darkness and the voids disturb me in my vision, but perhaps I take this idea too far.
Because I am looking at rectangles of color on a wall, I think of paintings, and perhaps this impulse belongs to the old, New World that is over. I often imagine, when one thing looks like another, that it is due to some laziness on my part; it seems too easy in this instance to pour forth language that applies to geometric abstraction and so, having raised the issue, I will let it drop.
Indeed, that Huffman is a poet leads me to wonder about the role of language in this work. In the moment of looking I think of a “poem” I once saw and read at MOCA, Carl Andre’s 1967 Letter to Yvonne Rainer. Huffman also shows a text piece in The Props, Sculpture for Jeffrey Tambor, a light box printed with the noun “APPLESAUCE” and this flashes off and on in a slow rhythm. I watched the changing, concrete grids of color and I remembered Andre’s text-filled page of graph paper. I imagine to myself that a letter is somehow less concrete than other uses of language – letters convey the idea of a conversation, and such an exchange even in real time and face to face has no weight, correspondence isn’t even fiction; and then Lauren Mackler turned and pointed above the entry to Sculpture for Jeffrey Tambor and I saw “applesauce” and imagined goopy, sweet stuff, recognized that I was seeing a word and processed this information as the light behind the word flickered on and then off, for a long time. The moment passed.
The sculpture before me – three pedestals, three black slide projectors throwing white light, colored light, and blackness, one electrical cord leading down the rear-most pedestal, and tape – this light-throwing sculpture with its doubtful periodicity uses its most insubstantial feature – light – to alter my experience of the room, and maybe the room itself: occasional long periods of white light make the surrounding art and architecture recede and shrink, then a moment of strong color will be tempered by bright overlay from one or two projectors without slides, in the moments of black, when the wall is without reflected light, video works, lighted sculptures and passing cars gain presence again, and then this moment passes, too.
Perhaps it is the darkness makes me feel confessional: yestereve I drank blueberry wine, a lot of blueberry wine, in the warm night air under a flight path and a matched giant pair of black birds of paradise. Several of us took this almost-spirit, we talked of cuckolds and of irony and children who are queered and of Identity as a thing that is conferred, sometimes. In darkness, under the sway of wine, there were colored lights next door. Yes, there were colored lights.
Act II – The Props at Public Fiction closed last night with a performance by Ali Prosch and Meghann McCrory. I wish I had been able to attend.