433 HARRISON AVENUE | BOSTON, MA 02118
Dec 17 – Jan 29, 2012
Robin Mandel: Everywhere and Nowhere
A site specific installation
Laconia Gallery is pleased to present a site-specific installation by Robin Mandel. “Everywhere and Nowhere” is the first major exhibition of a new body of work that engages the illusive qualities of light as a primary material. A logical progression from his conceptual sculptural works, these projected and reflected forms are both directional and static, hard-edged and organic. Mandel uses this dynamic and self- canceling paradox to articulate and extend the traditional use of light and shadow to the point of dematerialization.
Across media, Mandel’s work explores ideas of “motion and stillness,” and “how things can move to become still”. For this installation, he directs our attention to his areas of perceptual and visual interest with a universal two-dimensional pointer: the arrow. An arrow can indicate a direction (movement) or a specific point (stillness). In the gallery, mirrored arrow forms are attached to the walls; through the use of light and shadow, these forms appear to double and triple themselves, rotated in space around a point and altered in density. The groups of arrows are positioned around the perimeter of multi-lobed, organic forms, and draw attention to the boundary between light and dark that defines/creates the projected shapes and the arrows themselves.
In contrast to the more common, figurative use of reflections in contemporary art by artists like Anish Kapoor, Michelangelo Pistoletto, or Josiah McElheny, the use of a mirror to investigate light or shadow from a projected light source connects this work to the (pseudo) science-based sculpture of Spencer Finch, Otto Piene and Olafur Eliasson. Rooted in perception, these sculptural pieces become experiments that use mirrors to manipulate light as a material, independent of narrative or imagery beyond the arrow itself. Rather than abstracting, warping or repeating our own image as part of a vocabulary of representation, Mandel grapples with notions of transparency, simultaneity, and the immaterial. “A mirror can turn light against itself, becoming an object, a shadow, and a reflection all at once…I am interested in what your eye sees when it knows it’s being fooled”.
The artist explains he is “setting up systems where forces are at work but balanced out, each one acting against another, and exploring the connotations that can arise from that: harmony, concordance, but also deadlock and impasse”. The viewer experiences the works in a darkened room and from various positions – sometimes casting his/her own shadow and making part of the “form” disappear. That ephemeral quality of vanishing and the way a flat shape can appear to be a volume are the points of transformation we are made aware of by these surprisingly dynamic installations.
– James Hull