Monday, November 12, 2012

Thoughts on Slime and Sparkle by Yael Brotman

Kelly Cade                            'Globe' protruding with moss

During the first three weeks of October, Loop Gallery was transformed into a space where worlds collided. Kelly Cade and Sheryl Dudley exhibited together, each exploring the interaction of the mechanical with the organic and the manufactured with the phenomenological.

 Globe bursting with organic matter

Cade presented mirrored disco balls that she reconstructed into globes bursting with organic, messy, primordial life. Yet the dichotomy of the hard cold reflective surfaces of the strobes versus the procreative throbbing green slime (the mosses protruding from the cuts in the disco balls were not actually slimy, but gave that illusion) did not form such a clearly divided and separated binary as first appeared. The disco balls, which created a moving polka dot pattern of light reflected on the walls of the gallery, were emblematic of urban nightlife. In fact, dance clubs are the contemporary sites of ancient human interactions that include dance as mating ritual.

Cade's Globe installation with reflected light from disco ball
Further to the disco balls’ implication of rituals of sexuality, the split globes also recall desire and beauty personified in an art historical referent. Boticelli’s Birth of Venus re-enacts the Greco-Roman myth of the birth of the goddess of love from the foam of the sea. In Boticelli’s painting, Venus is standing on an open clamshell where a pearly globe ought to be.
Sheryl Dudley                                    'Skirting Damocles'
 Sheryl Dudley’s paintings regard the manufactured and the phenomenological from a different perspective. In one suite of paintings, Dudley has used aluminum circuit boards (which have a shine to them, although not one as bright as Cade’s disco balls) with mechanically stamped perforations as her support material. The images painted on the circuit boards are of icebergs. The perforated squares and rectangles that pierce the icebergs are reminiscent of the crosshairs of a rifle sighting a target. The overlap becomes a subtle and powerful condemnation of humanity’s greed and carelessness in turning nature into a victim.
Dudley                                 'When the World Arrives'
 Dudley’s second suite of paintings consisted of small watercolours of strolling tourists with an overlay of round splotches of colour reminiscent of Petrie dish growths of bacteria and other disease-causing organisms. These circular stains connect to Cade’s sparkles of polka dot spotlights. But in Dudley’s hands they become quietly threatening.
 The figures in these pieces are seen from above, a direct extension from Dudley’s last show at Loop where she exhibited photographs taken from a balcony of people walking in public spaces. However, the figures in the watercolours are now negotiating diseases and pandemics. 

The underlying and unifying thesis in Cade’s and Dudley’s works in this exhibition is one of a growing anxiety with the state of humanity’s destructive tendencies toward nature. There is humour and grandeur in the artists’ portrayal of the situation, but the balance has tipped irretrievably toward disaster.

Yael Brotman