Me, myself and eye
City Gallery East's Index examines the art of self-reflection
Bridget, star singleton in the new British film comedy Bridget Jones's Diary, has some quirky allies this month at City Gallery East, where 16 local and international artists display years of ritual self-reflection. In a show called Index, their installations allude to the diary's continuous process of self-documentation.
Curator Angela Willcocks asked other artists to join her in making a daily visual record of their lives. The project that initially began on a two-dimensional, 4-by-6-inch scale developed into quite a different animal; there are books, collages, collected and concocted objects, photos, wall drawings, rubbings, digital art and postcards among these notations.
The greatest share of Index narratives are more abstract than Bridget's ("I hate him!"). Only one is as playfully self-mocking. Cecilia Kane assembles a very long wall of used paper coffee cups and photos that catch her in the day-by-day self indulgence of caffeine addiction. Strung with rows of tiny blinking Christmas lights, "Coffee Jesus" is a comic kitsch ode to the freaky power of Java.
Jill Larson continues to etch out her life with endless rolls of film. The photographer covers a wall floor-to-ceiling in colorful 4-by-6-inch prints depicting son, husband, family, friends, personally significant objects and fragments of her work. The mundane is not described as artfully here as it was in the long filmstrip of daily life that she presented at Nexus Contemporary Art Center a few years ago. That dramatized view of intimate routine offered a more interesting read.
The most thoughtful abstraction of Index as a concept was literally impressed on the exhibition space by Suk Ja Kang-Engles. To create "Distemporal Deliverance of a Sentence," she layered her own inky fingerprints across the upper half of four white walls in a small room built into the edge of the gallery. Her poetic vision spills around the outer corners in a continuing line of oblong smudges.
Julia Rose Loffredo constructed another striking rendition of the diary. Her "Daily Ritual" is marked out in rows of tiny gray and black stitches on 5-by-5-inch black squares of linen. Loffredo's personal calendar describes the intimate relationship of the hand with artmaking while it references the passing of time. She transports handicraft to the level of formal abstraction in this installation. Many will sense a rapport between her work and the measured minimalist drawings of Atlanta artist Annette Cone-Skelton recently on view at the Kiang Gallery.
Susan Cipcic's written introduction is essential to appreciating an enigmatic and very personal assemblage. "Carbon Dating," she explains, connects to the experience of scattering her brother's ashes in the Colorado Rockies this year. A wall covered in charcoal X's in a penciled grid stands behind a fat sketchbook, a box of papier mache X's and a narrow armoire where small drawers hold ashes that were once her collection of daily recordings.
Other artists exhibit more emotional distance. Charcoal sketches and photo copies allow Adrienne Anderson to overlap memories and Renaissance archetypes in her array of drawings, paintings and books. Gregor Turk's textual rubbings from historic plaques are souvenirs from a subjective document, revealing both personal and cultural values in wax and oil on paper. His triage results in the display of words such as rare, terror, prime, significance and inferior. Maurice Clifford presents a book of printouts from his electronic diary, "The Aleph Project," inviting viewers to visit his Internet site eternal at http://22.214.171.124.
Including herself in Index, Willcocks joins a self-fulfilling pattern established by local curators in the past few years. In a wall statement, she refers to her pile of Ziploc bags holding art and found objects as "pockets of energy." She acknowledges how journaling — for her and her contemporaries in this show — can become a way of proving one's own existence.
Index continues through May 19 at City Gallery East, 675 Ponce de Leon Ave. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Mon.-Fri., 1-5 p.m. Sat. 404-817-7956. ??