Elka Krajewska BOUND: a projected walkthrough by Elka Krajewska, light score by Anthony McCall, sound score by Bunita Marcus
Lehman Maupin Gallery, April 12, 2008
In the American experience, scale is all. A big land to conquer. Big dreams to tear out of the world. Big egos, big defeats, big victories. Beyond the American spectrum, scale will more often flitter beyond the spotlight; a thought, an instinct, a budget. Within America, the inclination is to weigh scale—the big novel, the huge public-works installation—as the very soul of the endeavor.
Through this perspective, Americans measure themselves, their arts. We enlarge popular personalities to the scale of the universe: stars. In balance, we harbor our personal insecurities; we fear we are little more than cells, shuffling over a planet, which is itself hardly more than a pixel.
Elka Krajewska’s Bound, a walk through performance at Lehman Maupin Gallery on April 12, led a surging mass of viewers through a meditation on the very big and very small. Krajewska pressed through the hall, toe-tapping button lights on and off, and projecting a bead of light on the walls, ceiling, and crowd. The circle of light—like that produced by a magnifying glass—expanded and jumped with the fits and flurries of a handheld camera. But the beam was also intensely patient, and mesmerized the watchers. In a semi-hypnotic state, viewers followed Krajewska—herself moving trancelike—in a winding and doubling-back exploration of the light sources. Buttons on the walls flickered on and off with the press of Krajewska’s cheek, hip, chin.
A score by Bunita Marcus ommed quietly in the recesses. The music, created by striking and stroking chords inside a grand piano, gave the impression of the sounds inside one’s body—or in a hushed engine room, generating, working, but in a zen-like mum.
The ongoing nature of Bound accentuates this sense of perpetual engine and perpetual movement. The moment of the light snapping on, or off, is bound to an instant, but that instant of consciousness is no more than a single point. Krajewska—now working on a diagrammatic set of drawings elaborating on the performance, as well as a video—has no intention of giving us a proper beginning or ending. The collaborative side of the project—with Marcus’s composition and a “light score” by Anthony McCall—sets Krajewska as a cell in another body, with its own lifecycle.
The origins of Bound are equally evolutionary; the piece previewed at the Orchard Gallery in 2007, and in turn was a response to a fragment of a 1989 film by Karin Schneider and Nicolas Guagnini, which in turn incorporated a recorded demonstration of Hand Dialog, an interactive work by Clark and Hélio Oiticica from 1966. Hand Dialog, an elastic Möbius strip, endlessly joins by the wrist two moving hands. In keeping with the solitary/solidary juxtaposition in Bound, the sited demonstration of Hand Dialog employs only one user, while the assumption (“dialog” not “monologue”) would be that Hand Dialog was originally intended to join two different people.
Krajewska’s hands, crossed and bound in video equipment throughout the performance, bring this contemporary trope to the forefront. We are more solitary than ever—alone at our computer screens. But we are also, increasingly, part of an entirety: everyone is tracked and on the grid, and we interact, through email/web/social sites, with anyone we want, whenever.
There, perhaps, is the great horror and promise of our moment. We are becoming something larger. And we are posed with the question: shall we also become larger in spirit.
John Reed's novels include A Still Small Voice (Delacorte 2000) and Snowball's Chance, which will be published by Roof Books this September. He lives in Manhattan.
Singing in Unison:
Artists Need to Create On the Same Scale That Society Has the Capacity to Destroy
JUNE 2022 | Art
Rail Curatorial Projects is proud to present Singing in Unison: Artists Need to Create on the Same Scale that Society Has the Capacity to Destroy, a multi-venue series of exhibitions that aims to foster social unity in light of the recent political climate and the COVID-19 pandemic. The works shown in these exhibitions exemplify the breadth of the creative world, with artists who are taught and self-taught, young and old, and hailing from every corner of the globe. Singing in Unison is a timely endeavor that celebrates the power of art as a public site to stage programming, including poetry readings, music and dance performances, panel discussions on the subject of democracy, and cooking performances by Rirkrit Tiravanija. All of this is done with the aim of enhancing the art of joining in our various communities and to bring people together.
Marcia Hafif: An Extended Gray ScaleBy Jane McFadden
MARCH 2022 | ArtSeen
Standing next to any two or three panels, it can be difficult to detect the subtle shifts in shade that the viewer knows are happening along 106 panels between black and white. Yet when we glance down a row of panels, the gradient appears seamless, as the work becomes a perspectival vector through the space. The experience is enveloping, meditative, curiousevoking a slow awareness rarely encountered in the twenty-first century.
On ScaleBy Alexander Nagel
MAY 2021 | Art Books
Three recent books on scale throw a sharp light on attempts at human-based measurements. Each book induces a humbling sense of the limitations of human efforts to understand themselves in relation to their environment, an incipient awareness that also suggests the possibility of imagining alternatives.
Shirin Neshat: Land of DreamsBy Sahar Khraibani
MARCH 2021 | ArtSeen
Comprised of more than 100 photographs and a two-channel video installation, Land of Dreams is the New York premiere of Shirin Neshats latest body of work. The show marks a monumental conceptual and visual shift for the artist, whose repertoire has often looked back at her native Iran. Here, her explorations and camera are fixed on her adoptive home in the United States.