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Artists II

Bradshaw, Dove (USA)


Where there is salt there is life. When combined with water it is activated in different ways. This sculpture is made from local water and salt taken from each of the continents. The color of the salt is due to the different natural chemicals present in each locale. The work consists of six one hundred-pound salt mounds. Above each is suspended a separatory funnel calibrated at 7 drops per minute. From Antarctica, ivory salt is taken from Mcmurdough Bay; from Africa gray salt from Egypt; from Australia, white salt from Western Australia; from North America, green salt from the Dominican Republic; from South America, pink salt from Chile and for the Gwangju Biennale, Korean salt will represent Eurasia.

This idea evolved from a long process working with water, vapor or rain combined with very soft to very hard materials. For a decade working with humidity indoors on paintings made of silver, a chemical treatment permitted them to change with the atmosphere. Searching for another catalyst, outdoor weather was engaged. The hope was to make sculptures that would change shape. The initial exploration resulted in the large scale Indeterminacy stones in which the volatile substance pyrite was combined with more stable marble to produce an interaction. The pyrite, as it dwindled away, stained the marble underneath. The next thought was to bring that "weather" back indoors in a more significant way. That prompted the idea to drop water continuously on a substance-- in the Chinese style so to speak, to make an indoor fountain. The first thought was to use stone to get a very slow result and then, at the same time, to try something like salt to achieve a very fast result. The stone sculpture, made from an uncarved block, after almost ten years has produced a slight indentation. In the case of the salt, in the first hour the water bores a hole through the mound and, if left even for a week, a microcosm of rivulets begins to recrystalize at its base. Perhaps, although this hasn't yet been tested, the mound may eventually flatten forming a "wheel" of miniature rivers. Six Continents is a testament to the great diversity of the planet and the fact that everything is always changing.





The opening show of the season at SolwayJones was a condensed retrospective of the work of NY artist Dove Bradshaw, featuring prime examples of a body of work whose roots stretch into Duchampian, fluxus and minimalist territories. Something in the spirit of John Cage's embrace of the perfection of happenstances, the stern absurdism of Becket, and Joyce's grand celebration of Life. While Bradshaw is a brilliant, intent and thorough thinker, she poetically gets out of her own way as soon as she has caught an evidence or set a process in motion. She deftly abandons the work to the forces of change and allows their elementalness to take over without the expectation of any precise result. This curious tension between an informed intelligence with formalist predilections and a graceful abandonment to the eternal unknown is central to her work. The exhibit featured several Contingency paintings whose surface is layered with silver then brushed with a solution of liver of sulfur which causes the surface to become unevenly clouded, billowing in blacks, grays and yellows over time, lending it all at once a dramatic depth and a certain lyrical but impersonal beauty. These works, perhaps reminiscent of Anselm Kiefer's books (works on lead and photographs) but lacking his engaged heroic involvement, are more self-referential or simply oriented towards an acceptance of the march of natural forces which will take place seen or unseen by the artist and future onlookers.

The centerpiece of the exhibition, however, consisted in an installation of six pale 18" high volcanoes floating on the grey floor of the gallery, titled "Six Continents". Each mound whose color varied from stark white to algae green, tender ochre and the pink of dried roses, was made of 100 pounds of coarse, unrefined salt gathered respectively from Antarctica, Africa, Australia, Eurasia, South America and North America. Above each one, suspended from the ceiling, hung transparent glass womb-shaped vessels filled with water. A glass spigot at the tapered bottom of the funnels was tightly turned to let only one drop form slowly and fall onto the center of the volcano, gradually creating a crater and causing the surface to harden, crystallize and glisten.

Reflections flashed in the glass and the water surface of each vessel; the entire room itself and its contents, suddenly seemed to be squeezed into the suspended funnels, as if sucked into the water, dissolving into a shimmer and being expelled drop by drop into the earthen conical form below, a perfect parabola for alchemical transformation "So above, So below."  It also evoked the materialization of processes through time, the temporary tangibility of time itself, the concentration of all the now into one single moment and its vanishing into a cavernous future from where it would not return, then just an ingredient of these heavier Saturnian shapes whose rhythms were not visible but whose transformation would undoubtedly have a consequence on every

thing…Half-size images of the other vessels floated in the water as if traversing some barely perceptible dimension.  And more: the small upside down image of the volcano appeared to float on the surface of the water in the vessel above it.  All in balance, one within the other.

            Water and salt; mind arrested.  There was the expectancy of the falling of a drop and its disappearance into the invisibility and immeasurability of geological time, the slow crystallization of the salt altering the surfaces.  Over the duration of the installation, the crater tops widened into a deeper gap, their base circled outwards and their skin became veiled in pale iridescences.

            While, curiously, the installation seems to be caught between a certain nostalgia for the Victorian age of great inventions and great geographical discoveries on the one hand, and our contemporary anguish at the ominousness of an uncertain environmental future on the other, it offered a gate to the timeless in the constancy of transformation itself, here at the breaking tips of bubbles.

by S. A. DUTAN


Source: Foundation Gwangju Biennale