NARRATIVE FRAGMENTS - ONE WEEK REMAINING
Yesterday's Art walk was a great success! Thanks to the hundreds of people who came out to visit all of the galleries on Gallery Row, we had a wonderful time discussing Ricahrd's work with everyone. With only one week remaining in the show, make sure to head down before it closes on the 30th of June. To further entice you in, some reading material on the work....
In the modern era the tripod typically functions as a mute, level support for a camera, telescope, surveying apparatus or compass. Cameras and telescopes allow individuals privileged and delimited views of the world and of the universe. The surveyor's instrument and the compass are locational devices; the first offers a view of the world for the purposes of measuring, delimiting and establishing relative dimensions while the second helps establish relative location and direction. Altogether these instruments help situate and define one's relative place in a measurable world. Tripods have a long association with surveyors, at the origins of architecture. Yet equally ancient is the tripod’s function in relation to the Greek oracle. The tripod supported both the vessel commonly found at the sacred shrine at Delphi and the seat on which the Pythian priestess sat in delivering the imprecise and oft-misunderstood oracles of the god Apollo.
With his tripod sculptures Henriquez refers to all these meanings of the tripod, to vision and the visionary, even as he alters the tripod’s function and meaning, from a support for a scientific or religious ‘view-finder’ to an ‘object to be viewed.’ Instead of supporting equipment for measuring space or seeing into the future, Henriquez’s tripods hold poetic assemblages that require viewers to look inward in order to untangle their open-ended meanings.
Bandages I, 2012
Archival Ink-Jet Print with wood & canvas,
25.375 x 39.75”,
The tripod is a model of efficiency. It provides stable support with the minimum of legs while its adjustable extensions enable it to adapt to the height of any user and to deliver a level support that can be deployed in any direction no matter how irregular the topography. When not in use its legs can be collapsed for easy portability or storage. For the exhibition Richard Henriquez: Narrative Fragments at the Winsor Gallery Henriquez contradicts the mobility, adaptability and function of the tripod by attaching prosthetic shadows onto each of his tripod’s legs. These prescribed shadows suggest a fixed source of light for a static object, like those cast by a sculpture in a gallery, instead of the unpredictable and changing shadows that would apply to a working tool.
A source of inspiration for Henriquez’s prosthetic shadows comes from Marcel Duchamp’s 1913-14 work 3 Standard Stoppages, an anti-instrument with which the artist playfully commented upon Albert Einstein’s 1905 Theory of Special Relativity. Duchamp was specifically interested in Einstein’s notion that movement through time and space could modify the standard metre measure. Whereas Duchamp used the random results from rigidly applied procedures to create a set of quasi-scientific devices that measure the relativity of distance (each stoppage is a different length), Henriquez follows an equally rigorous method in producing the opposite result, an artwork with the built-in certainty of a fixed light source.
Marcel Duchamp casts another shadow over other works presented in the Winsor Gallery exhibition. Henriquez has long been a bemused opponent of Vancouver’s zoning laws, particularly the imposition of view cones aimed at preserving pre-ordained views from the city centre to the surrounding landscape. Henriquez’s ironic response is a massive new skyscraper, one that obviates the need for view cones by housing the city’s entire population in a single tower. Now everyone can see the mountains! As if in answer to the question, what would Duchamp think? Henriquez has deployed the Surrealist artist’s most famous work, The Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors, Even (1915-23), also known as the Large Glass, as part of a theoretical skyscraper project, presented in the form of a physical and digital model. Henriquez virtually transports this large and extremely fragile artwork to Vancouver (on the back of a massive paper airplane), from its home at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, to form part of this 2,500-foot tall skyscraper, formed by the seismic shifting and 90 degree rotation of five city blocks.
Honeymoon Suite #3, Arriving in Vancouver,
2012, archival ink-jet on canvas, 48 x 72”
The project builds upon Henriquez’s 1985 drawing Vertical City for a skyscraper at the foot of Burrard Street, the façade of which was generated from the surface pattern of the facing street grid (floors corresponded to horizontal cross streets, elevator lines to principal vertical boulevards). And there is also a correspondence with his 1989 Presidio condominium, whose design was generated from an invented narrative involving the transposition of Adolf Loos’s 1906 Villa Karma from Switzerland to Vancouver’s West End. There may also be a distant nod to Frank Lloyd Wright’s Mile-High skyscraper project of 1956, The Illinois, that was meant to house 100,000 and to “mop up what now remains of urbanism,” according to Wright.
The series of digitally produced collages that complete the works in this exhibition continue Henriquez’s preoccupation with Marcel Duchamp, for instance the Surrealist artist’s intention that his Large Glass be neither a painting nor a sculpture, but rather a work of art “to be looked through and at.” The collages are layered yet transparent and are composed of fragments that are often disposed in mirror-image relationships. Henriquez’s collages share with Duchamp’s work a seemingly contradictory working method that combines the randomness of chance procedures, the rigor of scientific or technological processes and the laborious hand-made practices of craftsmanship. The collages typically comprise three layers of overlaid Plexiglas, each sheet carrying a separate imprinted image and with some of the layers backlit by LED light panels. This of course is perverse because the overlaid layers existed as a single image on his computer and could more easily have been printed on one surface. But Henriquez wants you also to be aware of the means by which the work was created just as he wants to deny the computer’s facility in producing perfectly reproducible pictures. He transforms digitally produced images into handcrafted objects that become works of art “to be looked through and at.”
- Excerpt from Howard Shubert's Mechanamorphic Dreams Essay for the Narrative Fragments Exhibition at Winsor Gallery, 2012.