Shedding some unexpected light
New York artist James O. Clark has been experimenting with the artistic possibilities of light for more than 40 years, but his exhibition at ltd los angeles represents two firsts: his first show on the West Coast and his first opportunity to create a piece using a gallery’s existing light fixtures.
The latter feat feels particularly apt in the land of Robert Irwin and Michael Asher, who have masterfully redirected our attention to the structural properties of exhibition space. Clark, however, puts his own spin on it, transforming what is normally beneath notice into something more traditionally sculptural and dramatic.
He has ripped the gallery’s fluorescent-tube light fixtures from the ceiling and hung them vertically, dangling crisscrossed at jagged angles.
Still attached to their original electrical cords, they are now rigged with motion sensors that click the lights on or off as a viewer approaches. The fixtures’ metal supports are also coated with green phosphorescent paint that becomes visible only after the lights have clicked off.
The effect is a bit ghostly, although perhaps not as transcendent as one might hope. (Two smaller works in the show are similarly underwhelming.) Still, it’s satisfying to see objects that usually make the art visible become visible as art themselves.
JAMES O. CLARK’S “1993 to 2011 in 2015.”