Man Carrying Thing
The poem must resist the intelligence Almost successfully. Illustration:
A brune figure in winter evening resists Identity. The thing he carries resists
The most necessitous sense. Accept them, then, As secondary (parts not quite perceived
Of the obvious whole, uncertain particles
Of the certain solid, the primary free from doubt,
Things floating like the first hundred flakes of snow Out of a storm we must endure all night,
Out of a storm of secondary things),
A horror of thoughts that suddenly are real.
We must endure our thoughts all night, until The bright obvious stands motionless in cold.
– Wallace Stevens
Arratia Beer presents A Brune Figure in Winter Evening Resists Identity, an exhibition of works by Kelly Nipper, Matt Saunders and Eric Sidner.
Linked by networks of personal friendship and corresponding interests, these three artists each work with the mediation of materials and processes, often with the uncanny presence of the figure. Parts of bodies and bodies cobbled out of parts. Figures obscured and revealed. Gestures expressive or mute. From the color-flecked interior of a form cast in resin to the rich color of a camera-less C-print, materials are thick in these works—even when fleeing or intangible.
Kelly Nipper’s video Weather Center (2009) presents a lone, masked dancer performing movements based on Mary Wigman’s 1914 Witch Dance. As with her other works from this series, Nipper uses per- formers to explore the mechanics of bodies in space, often situated in broader metaphors of weather, climate and circulation. The framing and looping qualities of the video serve explicitly to “temper, bind and circumscribe emotion, or the emotive qualities of the piece [itself].” Nearby, the collages of Travel Journal are part a growing set that follows the realizations of the performance Tessa Pattern Takes a Picture, a multi-faceted work commissioned by the Museum of Modern Art, NY in 2013.
Matt Saunders’ camera-less C-prints, made by passing light through drawings and paintings, evoke both portraiture and cinema. Space and our distance from these figures emerges in layers—in the shallow depth of field of a photograph; in the superimposition of multiple materials and exposures; and in the literal layering of photographs with oil paintings made on thin chiffon. Portraying actress- es Jane Birkin and Hannelore Hoger, the subject is embedded completely in its materiality.
Experimenting with a range of materials and forms, the volumes of Eric Sidner’s sculpture can be both dense and translucent or absolutely hollow, ballooned up by an attached fan. The play of fragments, scale and almost-cartoonish identity in works like Mouth (2016) and Eyeball (2018) finds extreme culmination in the life-size cast octopus that contributes the bulk of the body to his assem- blage figure, Figure (2017), first seen last year at the Kunstverein Nürnberg. Feet grazing the table and suspended by teeth, is this a performer or a victim, an avatar or a chimera?