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Space is the Place – Felice Grodin and Samantha Salzinger, The Outer Limits at Dimensions Variable, Miami

The Outer Limits installation view (ceiling detail). Image courtesy Dimensions Variable.

In a statement on The Outer Limits, a collaborative work by Miami artists Felice Grodin and Samantha Salzinger, the artists describe their installation and video as a disruption or perforation in the fabric of the aesthetic universe of the white cube exhibition space.

Grodin mentioned that the exploration of the rift between phenomenon and allegory – fact and fiction – motivated their project. The two are space explorers, marking time and terrain in a kind of virtual environment. The container being perforated by The Outer Limits is Dimensions Variable, an alternative space hosted by artists Frances Trombly and Leyden Rodriguez-Casanova in Miami’s Design District. The large windows of their storefront space were blacked out for this installation, with the exception of one pane which allowed a sliver of light to leak into the space.

In the quasi-darkened space, a video by Salzinger slowly rotates the camera around a scene on a fictional, faraway planet, devoid of atmosphere, upon which are planted two monoliths a la 2001: A Space Odyssey. In the actual space of the room, a gauntlet of folded and leaning black slices of material by Grodin frame the video. These slices of the monoliths are creased and folded, laying on the floor and leaning on the walls at staggered intervals. Like shredded strips of a box, they take apart the exhibition space and de-stabilize the viewer’s position. One feels like the box is turning slowly underfoot, in sync with the video’s slow-motion rotation around the monoliths. The inaccessibility of the altar/video enforces the impression of a temple. Meanwhile, the outside light, while occasionally compromising the clarity of the video, creates its own motion drawing
as it slips into the space and marks the darkened walls with white lines in a rhythmic pattern. Thus, two projected light events are occurring in a space in which two separate experiences of walls and floors are occurring simultaneously.

The Outer Limits installation view. Image courtesy Dimensions Variable.

Salzinger’s video tells a fable of an ur-architecture in an unfamiliar place of rocky surfaces and pristine monuments, while Grodin’s installation counters with the physical, solid experience of her actual leaning and creased planks. This frontier where the fictional meets the factual encourages new shifts in perception, and new vistas.

This work takes it inspiration from popular 20th Century science fiction, with its trippy allusions to Stonehenge and to aliens that bred and nurtured a new landscape in our collective consciousness – of airless, star-dappled planet crusts and superior alien technology. This landscape launched many television and Hollywood franchises, from Star Trek to Star Wars, but it also reminded me of the bluntness and naiveté of the planets illustrated by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry in his children’s classic Le Petit Prince. Salzinger and Grodin borrowed the title for this work from The Outer Limits television series from the early 1960s. They quote a message from the detached, faintly malevolent “Control Voice” that narrated each episode. The installation at Dimensions Variable, mines our popular culture paranoia (with equal parts glee and hysteria) from that era that thrilled to the prospect of forces beyond our control, manipulating events in a massive dark void. Like all ultimately un-knowable quantities, the universe is not unlike the space allotted contemporary art today. Icons and objects with unstable values and conditions are arrayed in blank spaces, and minds, great and small, speculate on the mystery of it all.

Salzinger’s previous work involves the staging of fantasy environments which are then photographed at close range. She deliberately plays with our perception of nature and our expectations of the texture of cataclysmic events.

Grodin’s drawings construct elaborate mazes, tangled webs, planes stretched and pulled and intertwined on themselves. They suggest dimension, that there might be a way to navigate through their twisted paths, but they are ultimately masses, like tumbleweeds, or like cities, whose logic can only be sussed out from a great distance, perhaps from above.

The Outer Limits is a concretization of the relations between the narrative expressed in the video work of Salzinger and the spatial architecture of Grodin, a perfect marriage of the two artist’s concerns. Together, the two artists define each other’s premises, and together they have crafted a moody, provocative stage set for contemplation of the boundaries of knowable space[.]

The Outer Limits at Dimensions Variable is on view through Feb 25, 2011.

This post was contributed by Michelle Weinberg.


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Space is the Place – Felice Grodin and Samantha Salzinger, The Outer Limits at Dimensions Variable, Miami