Volume 32, Number 11, pages 23-24
"You Are Here" at Wayward Gallery
"The poet Mark Strand in his poem "Keeping things whole" tells us "we all have reasons for moving. I move to keep things whole." Strand implies that movement, which is change, creates its own harbor, a "wholeness" through disruption. This makes some strange sense since how we locate ourselves in the world is revised every moment we are alive, and the process by which things come together is the same process by which they are pulled apart. So, by walking into a room, we are also leaving it, albeit unknowingly; everything we experience and have ever experienced acts upon us at once. Movement is not antithetical to wholeness, but is, oddly, the process by which wholeness is realized, if only for an instant.
"You Are Here," an installation by Sabina Ott and Mary Anna Pomonis, proposes its own fractured unity. The words "You Are Here" directly reference an orientation point on a map, a sort of sign post, a place we can move out from and return to, yet the works in this show locate the viewer, not in a literal "place," but in a landscape of intimidation and imagination, the ostensible world between what could be, and what we might hope for were we able to choose.
Ott's ink-jet prints on decal paper create visual worlds, "vistas" that posit simultaneity as a way of being. She uses text taken from the works of Gertrude Stein overlaid across photographs of her own paintings, which are then digitally remastered. The result is endless flight, as though, in looking at these images, we are frozen inside the air, caught in the pleasurable act of soaring headlong into a pink rose or just floating in a windsweep of color. On a shelf are multiple decals, T-shirts (by Mary Anna Pomonis) and videos, all of which are for sale. The sense is that you are wading through the room; the video on the floor of the gallery shows a series of overlaid images, strangely fractured: the shadow of trees are reflected in a pond as seen through a small circular aperture, a hawk's eye or maybe a sparrow? The images are accompanied by a haunting score and Stein's words again, skirting the edges of the music. As with Stein's poetry, the worlds created in these images situate the viewer in blissful dislocation; a strange and mesmerizing joy is palpable here, a redoubling celebrated, as images fall into themselves and back out again.
Stein's famous words "a rose is a rose is a rose" takes on new meaning in Ott's work as "rose" opens out, conflated with the word "eros." The fact that these works are decals means that they can be adhered to anywhere, to anything. So, I suppose, someone who wanted to create for themselves the experience of soaring, could place the decal on the windshield of their car, start the engine and take off into Ott's transposed reality. The decals are for sale, so Ott obviously intended for people to take something of her away with them. For $9.95 and the chance to leave myself behind, I couldn't refuse.
Pomonis creates her own wonderful dislocation. Adhered to the sliding glass door of the gallery is a large decal of the artist's own face. The image is split, the one on the right door, the outline, or negative image of the artist's face, whereas the image on the opposing door is its positive. Her eyes are open. Her features are composed. The doors of the gallery open and close as people come and go, and each time the face slides in to meet itself, then pulls away. The self Pomonis gives us is under constant scrutiny, both by her own opposing image and by the people opening and closing the glass doors of the gallery. The viewer's participation is in the artist's knowing and unknowing of herself, as her face continuously overlaps. The piece begs the question: how much of one self can a person truly ever know? Pomonis is more concerned with the question than with assigning a specific answer. She too moves to "keep things whole," and in this shifting comes closer to herself for a moment and then pulls away again.
Both Ott and Pomonis are at home in uncertainty. Indeed they serve it up to us, proposing an extraordinary peace in dislocation. Perhaps we are safer flying through Ott's unpredictable landscapes, soaring in to blazing color, building blurring inside the sheer velocity of imagination, than we are inside our own lives. Perhaps Ott and Pomonis are trying to tell us all we have are brief moments of movement, wondrous dislocations, a progression toward something unknowable as we fall in and out of ourselves, to attain our own "wholeness" and everything we take to be solid is a dream."
Volume 32, Number 11, pages 23-24