Lost in space

Lost Places installation misses connection with Found Spaces

Try as they might, most of the fragments from the past can't find their way into a meaningful conversation with the present in Lost Places, Found Spaces, an installation by Deborah Kaszovitz at Eyedrum. Though described as site specific, the work fails to visually interact with the new space.

Tracks behind Eyedrum — remnants of the Georgia Rail Co. — are what piqued the artist's curiosity about Lost Places. The Atlanta-based artist clearly went to some trouble to research downtown history and to memorialize the urban detritus she scavenged from Eyedrum's environs. Her statement of intent placed at the gallery entrance states: "I often find that what survives as a society progresses is only presented in the most impartial, documentary form." Her research on the history of the architecture revealed that the original wood and brick structure dating from 1864 was destroyed in the 1940s. The building was a cotton finishing facility, probably part of the Mattress Factory complex next door. Because of the railroad line, the area has been in constant industrial use since Atlanta's early days.

For the installation, Kaszovitz made cast paper forms using railroad ties, propellers, bottles and wheels, which she edged in gauze and tinted chestnut brown, green and blue. She affixed those shapes somewhat randomly around a series of portals to the past created from large bowls or basins covered in wax-painted photographs of bygone Atlanta buildings collaged with images of birds and wings. Each one is a decorative emblem that, in its convex form, resembles a great brooch. Like watchbands, the columns of cast paper brickwork that extend vertically above and below the circular shapes give them the look of giant timepieces (an unexpected, and perhaps unintentional, visual reference).

The entire installation is mounted on two walls in a repetitive linear array, which fails to form a physical relationship with what remains of the building's original structure. Now white-walled, the space has cement floors and a high, open beam wood ceiling with a giant rusted propeller fan set into one recess. Perhaps because of the artist's concerted quest for authentic fragments, her static presentation can't evoke the intangible threads connecting past to present.

Kaszovitz's collaboration with sound artist Jeff Rackley resonates where the gallery installation doesn't. The sonic component is a wonderful fusion of the literal and the oblique. Night sounds of crickets chirping and morning birdsong intersect with a train whistle, footsteps, flowing water, passing cars and vague ambient noises. Quiet strains of mountain music, a piano and perhaps a mandolin flow in and out of the industrial and organic sounds, creating a poetic afterimage of the Lost Places the artist sought to recover.

Lost Places/Found Spaces continues through Jan. 5 at Eyedrum, 290 MLK Jr. Drive. Wed. and Sat. noon-5 p.m. and by appointment. 404-522-0655. www.eyedrum.org.??