In the Dark

Featured Artists

Marciana Biasiello, Mark Staff Brandl, Jane Calvin, Raoul Deal, Mauri Formigoni, Jeff Hoke, Annalee Koehn, Ingio Manglano-Ovalle, Michael Paha, Gail Simpson, and Jeff Wrona.

  • May 22, 1988 – June 26, 1988
  • The Del Prado

Curated by Jane Calvin and Mark Staff Brandl, the artists in this exhibition presented a variety of media- painting, sculpture, photography, and installation. All of the work was made to be specifically viewed in the dark. However, each artist used the concept of the dark to evoke collective memory, to involve the viewer, to offer an alternative human interaction with nature, to demonstrate the decontextualization of art, to provide an obstacle to human activity, and to elicit mood and mystery. In the Dark offered a space that allowed for different responses to the works. The exhibition challenged the traditional viewing experience of a neutral box-like space containing white walls and overall lighting. Rather than utilizing light to enhance the artworks as objects, the artists in the exhibition focused on the absence of and/or controlled presence of light, thereby activating the fact of light or dark as a carrier of meaning.

Artist Jeffrey Wrona used found objects from his childhood in the 50’s and 60’s and assembled them into artifacts. With the use of selective lighting, the mementos were signifiers for his collective memory. Gail Simpson‘s mixed-media sculptures used cast and constructed forms in conjunction with common objects. Her sculptures referred to the human senses and actions-seeing, hearing, and speaking. Her pieces used light and the act of seeing in the dark as a metaphor for learning. Raoul Deal‘s two dimensional and three dimensional works combined concepts related to kitsch, religion, and everyday enjoyment to challenge his personal understandings of sentiment and belief. His work incorporated iconography from several countries and levels of culture. Marciana Biasiello composed an installation of individual painted canvases that were dimly lit. The composition of the objects suggested a narrative that reoccurred on each canvas. Artist Annalee Koehn created hallucinatory homelike environments made from flicker-flame light bulbs that were assembled into a number of sculptural objects. Mauri Formigoni‘s installation used darkness, light and color with neon light to suggest changes in space. Painted shards of glass in the installation reflected both the natural and artificial light. While more formal than much of the work in the exhibition, Formigoni’s work elicited ritualistic acts of mark-making rather than a pure arrangement. Jeff Hoke used the dark to refer to and mix suburban media forms, such as home slide shows and yard decorations, with references to alchemy. Hoke’s media forms expanded autobiographical events and included shared remembrances that elucidated the viewer’s world views. Michael Paha made sculptural constructions that incorporated terrarium-like elements to enclosed animal and plant life. Paha used darkness to foster a childlike delight in a particular facet of nature: what plants and animals do while we sleep, while simultaneously calling attention to human interactions with the environment. Artist Inigo Manglano-Ovalle works incorporated ordinary objects and architecture- hotplates, ziggurats, inner tubes, bull fighting arenas- to highly imaginative lengths. Manglano-Ovalle through images, light and mood evoked dramatic cultural references. The curators of In The Dark were also included in the show. Jane Calvin‘s light boxes with back lighted color photographic transparencies referred to hidden sexuality, violence, decadence and chaos. Calvin used complex assemblages of objects and slide projections that produced images that evoked the instability of meaning and experience, and emphasized the power of chance in the world. Mark Staff Brandl‘s work addressed the reception of culture through institutional images, a process he labeled as encasement. The piece in the exhibition mimicked the use of overly dark, melodramatic lighting in natural history museums and the bright, overly austere, light of galleries. This manipulation of the light resulted in the decontextualization of artifact or art from life.

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