July 14, 2003

"Wake" by Gary Simmons

"Wake" by Gary Simmons.

There is an absence in Gary Simmons' work -- from his child-sized Klan robes (6X, 1990) or row of empty gilded sneakers (Line Up, 1993), to his recent photographs of uninhabited pedagogical spaces -- that is as salient as any presence one could portray. The act of imagining the people who might inhabit these objects and spaces invites a speculation ultimately more unsettling than facing any corporeal presence.

For Wake, Simmons photographed nine dance spaces, each devoid of people and each shot in a style reminiscent of portraiture. These rooms range from ornate, baroque ballrooms to a single relatively austere auditorium. Simmons does not present them in their entirety: rather, each is programmed in such a way that sections of the image are revealed as the viewer passes a mouse across the screen. In what might be considered a visual metaphor for the act of remembering, as each fragment appears it begins immediately to fade, making it impossible to see the complete image at one time. Weddings, dances, and other special occasions that take place in venues like these, while sometimes monumental in our memories, in retrospect seems like just a flicker of time.

Posted by Scott Fisher at July 14, 2003 12:22 AM
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