Edge of Light at Plaxall

Previewing with Jonathan Sims

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Jess Holz, Borderlands, 2020. Installation with laser cut Fresnel lenses and video of the artist’s skin being examined under the scanning electron microscope at the HoloCenter exhibition EDGE OF LIGHT

The Edge of Light began with the intent to create a group exhibition of artists who work in light. Jonathan Sims, a light artist himself and the curator of this group show at Plaxall, says that although there are a very large number of artists currently working with light as a medium and a material, but their chances to exhibit, particularly in a group setting, are limited. 

The exhibition includes a variety of methods, mediums, and materials—digital projections and mapping, neon, stereoscopic sculpture, glowing pigments, kinetic lumia sculpture, and different manipulations of these technologies. Jonathan Sims says that by bringing together this disparate group of artists who share light as a unifying element, the commonalities in the work and process started to emerge.

This is your second curatorial venture using a dark space gallery to present a self-illuminating exhibition. What was your takeaway from your first venture and how do the two differ besides the different artworks?

Martina Mrongovius (director of the HoloCenter) and I have both separately developed “dark space” group shows for light art. The HoloCenter was founded in 1998 with a specific focus on holographic works, but also supports  light based installations, multi-dimensional imaging and experimental visual media. When she decided to develop a sequel to the SPACE:LIGHT show from 2019, she asked me to curate, and now Edge of Light is opening in 2020 in a very different art world. We are grateful to CultureLab LIC for offering us the space, which is an organization developed to support the work of local artists at the Plaxall Gallery in Long Island City.

The major thing I learned from last year was that assembling a bunch of different light installations in the same place is a real challenge. Each artist has their own technical needs and managing light spill between each work is extremely difficult to plan and accommodate. My hope with this show was to include more artists with more space to develop larger installations with a wider berth between each. With the huge space at the Plaxall Gallery, I was able to accomplish each of these goals, though challenges still remained.

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Testu Collective, for EDGE OF LIGHT, Maco view of live manipulation of various plastics between polarized light

Let’s take a closer look at the work in the show – what do you see as you enter on the whole and how is the viewer prompted to perceive individual artworks?

There are two major spaces in the show. The first gallery features Ed Bear’s experimental nine channel projection that explores the nature of additive light. Emma Hendry dominates the center with Forest Fire, a grove of glowing neon trees, and there is an experimental video from Rachel Guardiola shot in an offsite light installation–a testament to these socially distanced times. Blinn & Lambert have an incredible installation of sculptural forms that use red and blue 3D glasses that create optical dimensionality from shadows.

In the back space, Rita Jimenez collected a panoply of found objects that interact with her with digital projection, and Jess Holz’s Borderlands has suspended a series of lenses that distort and expand a video piece. Kamari Carter and Julian Day have created a LED text installation to bring attention to the history of the nearby Blissville neighborhood and its housing disparities and inequities. Emily Andersen uses projection mapping to educate about Anable Basin right outside the space’s back door in a work titled Greetings from the Canal.

Shohei Katayama created a very large but subtle piece that uses strontium aluminate pigment to evoke bioluminescence and a massive scale of time. Across from this is Zamân by Nooshin Rostami, a kinetic optical artwork that casts a wonderful circuit of imagery on the wall. Finally, Evan Voelbel uses a hemisphere of tiny glass beads in a singular experience of diffracted rainbow circles in space that really must be experienced in person.

Each of these installations stands on its own and demands a unique consideration from the viewer. Artists working in light are at a special advantage: they can synthesize the historically mature language of the visual arts using fresh mediums that are intrinsically able to express the most present time. It is innate for artists to try to find the edges of these mediums and to distort and skew our expectations of what they can accomplish, which makes for a deeply experiential exhibition.

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Blinn and Lambert, NNAATTUURRAA MMOORRTTAA, 2020. A sprawling still life and a tableau of the objects’ cast shadows, which, when viewed through 3D glasses, coalesce into a stereoscopic image at the HoloCenter exhibition EDGE OF LIGHT
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Nooshin Rostami, Zamân, 2020. Installation with sculptural elements and light at the HoloCenter exhibition EDGE OF LIGHT

All images are courtesy of the artists The HoloCenter has a creative commons copyright agreement with each of the artists and gives permission for you to use these images in Art Spiel.

Edge of Light at Plaxall Gallery 5-25 46th Ave, LIC, NY 1101 December 3-27, 2020 (Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday evenings)

Artists: Emily Andersen, Ed Bear, Blinn & Lambert, Julian Day & Kamari Carter, Rachel Guardiola, Emma Hendry, Jess Holz, Rita Jimenez, Shohei Katayama, Nooshin Rostami and Evan Voelbel. Curated by Jonathan Sims

Etty Yaniv works on her art, art writing and curatorial projects in Brooklyn. She founded Art Spiel as a platform for highlighting the work of contemporary artists, including art reviews, studio visits, interviews with artists, curators, and gallerists. For more details contact by Email: artspielblog@gmail.com