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Wednesday, March 12, 2014

An impressive show of video art at Flanders Gallery

Posted by on Wed, Mar 12, 2014 at 4:14 PM

click to enlarge frames per second - COURTESY OF WILLIAM LAMSON/GERCO DE RUIJTER/FLANDERS GALLERY
  • courtesy of William Lamson/Gerco de Ruijter/Flanders Gallery
  • frames per second
It must be something about March, but many of my standard Raleigh gallery stops didn't have new openings this past First Friday.

Luckily, that gave me a chance to revisit frames per second, a consistently fascinating, richly meditative video art show at Flanders Gallery. If you're in Chapel Hill or Durham and routinely stick to your city’s Second and Third Friday art walks, then this sharply curated group exhibit, which closes on March 16th, is worth the trip to Raleigh. Many of the pieces are available online, but when carefully installed in a darkened room—many have sculptural elements or play on enormous screens—the cumulative effect is impressive.

One highlight is William Lamson's “A Line Describing the Sun,” a surprisingly emotional split-screen exploration of man's capacity to scorch the planet. A homemade Fresnel lens wanders over the Mojave Desert, following the path of the sun and focusing its light into a point of heat that leaves a daylong scar on the sand.

A Line Describing The Sun, 2010 from william lamson on Vimeo.


Lamson’s “Actions” is almost as good, creating beautiful compositions with balloons, arrows and people that play with notions of relationships and gravity (jump to the 2:20 mark for a particularly well-composed example).

Actions (5 of 33), 2008 from william lamson on Vimeo.


David Colagiovanni and Melissa Haviland's “Music for Teacups” is another large-screen gem. Putting on the headphones immerses you in a gorgeously repetitive, eye- and ear-opening Zen experience. Tim Tate's oddly cyberpunk sculptural piece and religious critique, “The View From Afar,” does the same thing in a creepier way.

Haviland & Colagiovanni, Music for Teacups [ Samples ] from David Colagiovanni on Vimeo.


As in most group shows, there are a few pieces that don't captivate as much as others. Shen Wei's entry consists of one beautifully composed shot with a naked male body, a gentle breeze and little else of interest, while Lotte Geeven's has the kernel of an interesting idea, but goes on too long and is a bit too obtuse for my tastes.

F.L. from Shen Wei on Vimeo.



Still, there's so much to like in this rich, smart exhibit. You're greeted at the entrance by Gabriel Barcia-Colombo's delightfully strange “Tube II” (watch his brief TED talk about capturing memories here) before wandering into Tate’s beautifully framed moving portraits, Gerco De Ruijter’s abstract take on crop landscapes and much more.

Tube II from Gabriel Barcia-Colombo on Vimeo.

Dreaming Of Ophelia from Tim Tate on Vimeo.

I get off work at 8 p.m. on Fridays, which makes it a bit of a chore to get home, get food and get out to more than two or three exhibits before they close. It doesn't help when neat spots like Visual Art Exchange make a point of hustling folks out and locking their doors promptly at 9 p.m. CAM Raleigh used to be similarly strict about closing time, and charged a $5 admission fee (I still meet people who avoid CAM because they haven’t heard that the cover charge was dropped).

CAM has wisely loosened both policies, and they had wonderful art on view last Friday. The deep North Carolina Arts Council Fellowship exhibit in the main gallery, ongoing through April 27th, includes Scott Hazard's engaging sculptural landscapes and some science-fictional abstract geography from Amanda Small, among other pleasures.

Particularly striking are gorgeous plant-based designs on organic ceramic shapes from Becky and Steve Lloyd. In a nice curatorial move, two of the most beautiful jars greet you at the bottom of the stairs as you head to the basement, and then a half-dozen more appear around the corner. It’s a must-see if you enjoy pottery.

Fair warning: CAM has an odd but interesting habit of using middle-school docents to "explain" the art to First Friday patrons. I'll admit to being slightly annoyed, at first, by the pre-teen who approached me to tell me "what the art means," but I thoroughly enjoyed the resulting conversation. She offered a few interesting tidbits about Small's work and confirmed that I wasn't the only one who had a slightly odd interpretation. Downstairs, a young man explained a few things about the intentions behind Travis Donovan's twisting, motorized monofilament pillars that I wouldn't have understood on my own.

It’s hard to argue with that.

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