A Solo Exhibition by Carl Pomposelli at Monte Vista Projects
In the first room of Monte Vista there are a lot of objects: some are arranged by type and some by color and some simply are. Wait. There’s a bookshelf to my left as I enter, and a table or desk ahead and to the right. The bookshelf and the desk are each backed by walls, temporary walls built by the artist, Carl Pomposelli. I see unfinished paintings, as well as completed works of art by his friends. Oh, right – wait once more. After a great deal of time, I recognize that the shelves are papered in green, this fact becomes recognizable – it makes itself important – only once I see the video Pomposelli made and understand the relationship between the green screen technology in the video and the green paper on which his curious found objects are arranged. (Perhaps you’ll understand how, when one spends time in a room full of interesting things, and many of the things are also present in a video which is installed in a second room, that relationships reveal themselves over time, and a later understanding can inform an earlier viewing, and vice versa, and that one’s sense of time becomes un-linear, and that narrative – even an ongoing interior narrative that plays in one’s own head and provides one with a comforting sense of alterity to one’s surrounding environment – folds in on itself.)
“I do associate these things that I pick up with people; the objects mark occasions of friends sharing time with me.” I’m paraphrasing rather than quoting the artist as we spoke together at the show. The artist’s presence is an important feature of this solo exhibition – in the gallery and in the work. For each moment the show was open, Pomposelli was present, and I think of him in the space as being one among his objects, as well as acting as caretaker, guide, and curator for his archive. From our conversation I learned that the colored plastic spoons I see in a glass the artist collects from visits with friends to a yoghurt shop. Some objects are gifts of friends, from their studios. Two painted grey sticks were donated by Erich Bollmann. Pomposelli laughingly told me, “I pick things up in friends’ studios, too. Maybe the things make their ways back, and maybe they don’t. I appreciate the surprise associated with the discovery by a friend of a, well of a part of themselves that they find in my care.”
Pomposelli’s video is organized into scenes that show the artist interacting with, playing with various of his objects. I should almost refer to videos, in the multiple, since on each day of the exhibition, the artist re-edits the video and adds new material to make a new video. On top of a glass case I found six or seven dvd’s scattered. Examples of this content include film of the Florida sky reflected in water lapping off a dock, found objects suspended in clear and green water, bobbing things on strings; these he green-screens into scenes filmed in his studio and home.
In one scene, the artist holds a small square of weirdly rolling sky, he carries this sky like a mirror around a darkened garage, while a helicopter hovers loudly above. In another scene, the amorphous fluidity of a mountain spring becomes a flat space when green screened into the studio, a plane behind which the artist stands to dangle and spin a red satellite-looking toy. In the way that I experience film by becoming part of it, this toy appears in the film between me (my consciousness) and the spring in North Carolina, into the flatness of his film the artist has layered time and physical space and behind all of this he appears, and also doesn’t appear.
Pigeons swoop and circle a downtown rooftop, a dog runs barking, and the artist films. Metaphorically, the pigeons function similarly to his found objects, and Pomposelli’s use of the camera puts me in his own position, as an eye that is central to the confetti-like information all around. The camera’s relation to the birds and dog, as well as the attendant sounds, is one of gathering, of attempting to encompass, even as they fly away. I suspect that with the objects too, Pomposelli’s attitude is not one of holding, as much as it is of conserving and considering. Well, and maybe holding, too, only not so tightly. These objects each have a history, and have agency, and in the video each is itself; the artist imposes little on them.
Pomposelli also tells me about his plans for an archive of his found things. I don’t recall the details, but understanding, as I now do, that objects enter his archive through intuition and emotion, I think that his would be an archive that imagines change, one that is open to question, an archive that does not fix things in place and time but that offers things space, emotional space and intellectual space.
As I sit in the darkness, watching his film and making notes, on the screen Carl appears way at the back, behind furniture, maybe down a hallway. I see him, shirtless and shoeless in greenish light, then, in a second, more real light, his hand, in this moment larger than his other body, moves into my view like another character, and it picks something up. I watch as Carl steps and disappears behind his greenish projected self and I am startled when the thing he picked up drops into view again. The object snaps and captures my attention and then it begins to spin on the string that suspends it. The moment feels wonderfully powerful, and I hold my breath, rapt, thinking how it reminds me of Miguel Angel Rios’ A Morir, a video installation in which the throwing down of a top becomes a matter of great consequence, of life and death.
(Immediately after this moment the artist appears behind me in the flesh, in the doorway, and then seeing my focus he just as quickly steps back and disappears.)
In the film this scene begins a long sequence that moves seamlessly to a rapids of a stream and then to a long passage of focus-less pink motion. This series of scenes had begun with a Who song playing on a background radio and it includes other popular music and ambient sounds throughout, now is completed in silence.
I am struck throughout the film at the respect with which Pomposelli features his objects. Each one is handled by him, and often his body is also present in a way that feels honest and bare, lacking in pretense; there is an equality of weight, of substance between the artist and his found things. Seeing the artist’s hand and his skin makes me think of the people who might have touched the objects in the past, and it makes me think of objects that I pick up myself. Separate almost from the artist, the artist’s hand has a role in this film, its actions draw me in; and, in a curious manner, when he touches the things, I feel it.
Later, outside, Carl and I speak about his objects and his films. He tells me that this work of picking things makes a difficult art practice, and he offers the films as a way to explore this interest further, and with the public. When taking such a non-objective practice as his into the realm of the art object, I like that the objects that Pomposelli does make (the films), are experiential and time-based, and that he respects their need to change. I like that an artist whose work already disavows the potential for commodification – while itself being made of used and cast-off commodities – continues to challenge the marketplace in his making of mutable, beautiful films.
Pomposelli’s exhibition a Monte Vista is expansive, it includes and alludes to much more than itself: the objects and films make references among themselves and also outward, to the social space the artist and his friends and family occupy.
Leaving the show, and again now, as I write and am not able to communicate sufficiently the breadth of my experience, I feel regret; but then a memory of a friend who urged me to see Carl’s show, Adam Feldmeth, comes to mind: “It’s okay, the conversation will continue, this is just a pause,” Adam reassures me each time we must break off talking and I express regret at our return to daily life. It’s as though conversation exists in some dimension of constant flux, and we tap into it at times when we talk together; I think the same with Carl’s show: the art is always out there, and we need only pay attention to find it.
(All photos are by Carl Pomposelli and are courtesy of Monte Vista Projects.)
A Solo Exhibition by Carl Pomposelli at Monte Vista Projects, October 20 through November 19