Last week I was invited by a friend to attend Radiator Gallery’s closing event for their show titled From Within the Flesh of the World, curated by Eileen Jeng. I was immediately struck by the way the the gallery housed these powerful works within the confines of their smaller space. The show featured work by two artists – Adam Frelin and Rena Leinberger and for the closing event, a performance art piece referencing the tenet of transformations that runs throughout this entire show.
Upon entering the gallery, a room to the right painted in dark black paint housed Rena Leinberger’s photographs and video, Utopias, Unmoored. Photographs of Leinberger’s small-scale islands of urban settings constructed out of materials you may find around the house, like foam, colored paper and wood pieces are set free to float away off the shores of Governor’s Island. These small utopian worlds buoyant around the confines of the looming city plays to our perception of scale. Leinberger’s other work, Zero Panorama, hangs in the main gallery. Black and white photographs of cake frosting that are formed to represent images found on the internet of historical explosions of Nagasaki and the Challenger, stimulates our perception of playfulness and misery.
The push/pull of beautiful/ugly transformations segues into Frelin’s photographs of sculptures, Kodamazothgolemnkiski, created from found gum scraped of the sidewalks of 14th Street in NYC. These gum scraps were then melted and formed into prehistoric looking sculptures. Frelin explained that he photographed his sculptures close up in order to see every little detail of hair and gunk, leaving a sort of disgusting taste in your mouth. But, then at the same moment, one quickly feels that they are beautiful. Video of the process can be seen here on Vimeo.
Another photograph made by Frelin also caught my attention. Titled Constant, the piece was a photograph of a photograph that was part of a commission for the I-Park Environmental Art Biennial in Connecticut. A photograph was made by Frelin of the lush forest within the park, then printed onto a weatherproof PVC panel and placed somewhere else within the forest. A photograph was made of the exhibited large PVC photo and was then framed over a transparent scene of the same forest in winter. This constantly changing conceptual series of events within the forest was punctuated by another Frelin piece. A wooden sculpture carved from a single piece of sugar maple and installed on the diagonal, fastened to the corner of the gallery.“Drifter” was originally part of an exhibition through the Sculpture Center in Cleveland. The tapered cylinder was buried below ground in a cemetery absorbing the nature surrounding it underground and consequently, bridged the space between the dead and alive. The performance art piece presented at the closing brought these ideas all together. The gallery uses a working freight elevator as an extension of the space. A performer carried a medium sized rock to the elevator which was then smashed and pulverized by hand into a fine chalk. Simultaneously, the wooden stake, which still carried the soil of the cemetery, was sawed into individual slices to be given out to the attendees. As I was presented with a slice, I felt honored to have a piece of this important transformative experience, with the wonderful scent of the forest palpable and wafting into my psyche.
Vincent Van Gogh once said, “Great things are done by a series of small things brought together.” The closing of From Within the Flesh of the Worldproved this to be true!
Adam Frelin and Rena Leinberger: From Within the Flesh of the World / Closed : Dec. 11, 2014
Gallery Hours: Friday and Sunday (1 to 6 pm)
Radiator Arts Gallery. 10-61 Jackson Avenue, Long Island City NY 11106
Photography and article by: Olya Turcihin