Friday, October 12, 2012

Sabrina Gschwandtner at LMAK

A visit to LMAK, just below Delancey Street, and some wonderful pieces by Sabrina Gschwandtner.  Illuminated quilts sewn together from film.

Viewed from afar the quilts resemble fabric quilts, but looking close there are the sprocket holes, optical soundtracks, the frame lines, the sequences of images, the punctures made by the sewing machine.  It is a forest, and then it is trees.  The effect is not unlike the experience of viewing a painting by John Singer Sargent both close and far.  From a distance are objects of a tactile stolidity: faces, hair, fabric, jewelry.  Up close these dissolve away, the illusion is broken, another painting emerges that is about the paint, its tactile qualities spread on the canvas, the speed and movement of the brushstrokes.  Or perhaps the pointillist works of Georges Seurat and Paul Signac are an appropriate comparison, for understanding the near and far effect that Sabrina works with in these pieces?

There is an interesting parallel in the sewing machine and the motion picture and camera, both of which are employed in these pieces.  The two inventions are Nineteenth Century mechanisms utilizing intermittent motion.  The film moves through the camera, advanced by the the pulldown claw, where it stops with a frame in the gate, the shutter opens, light passes through, creating the image on the film.  In much the same way, the drop feed sewing machine employs the "feed dog" to advance the fabric, as the fabric stops, the needle comes down, and the thread passes through the fabric creating the stitch.

The the last day to see the show is Sunday October 21, 2012, so make your way down to LMAK soon!