Following his opening at Chinatown’s L2Kontemporary a week before (see below), experimental sculptor Steven Simon will open his installation “Road” at Dangerous Curve. Steven Simon has degrees in both three-dimensional art and political science, and he uses them to examine America’s priorities. After his political-science degree, Simon had an epiphany while visiting the Florence art museums: he realized that art history revealed more about humanity than did war history. So he went back to school to get a degree in art.
For the past 25 years, he’s been using repurposed materials. Several of his solar-powered sculptures are permanently installed internationally. Lately, Simon has immersed himself in the highly labor-intensive culling of Queen Palm flower stems for sufficient straightness, so they can be painstakingly inserted into the holes in large parallel planes of perforated steel. “Road” is the result of such monumental effort.
The best of nonrepresentational art foregrounds its own formalism. You can experience it as pure phenomena: there’s no overt narrative to guide interpretation. Yet your mind still gridsnaps to something, your own special something. The artist may have had an intention, but that doesn’t intrude on your experience. In Simon’s case, it includes allegories of disappearing forests, of giant log storage racks erected in the skies above them, a Super Shelving System to derandomize natural growth. It houses a little piece of the forest that in the future you might have to rent should you want to go camping.
You probably won’t see all this. You’ll see a “fence” of 22 double mesh planes stacked two-up down the middle of the gallery. (Curiously enough, it’s installed in the same place as was Simon’s subway system in his previous Dangerous Curve show, except there’s a gap through which you can walk.) There’s squares underneath sprouting half-shorn Queen Palm flower stems. Their broken-off “branches” are now painstakingly threaded through the double mesh panels—no easy task considering the size of the grid and the several inch separation between panels. Yes, it was all very labor-intensive: Simon has been cutting palm flower stems for this piece for almost a year and a half. In fact, total labor for each panel clocks in at over 30 hours.
What do we ourselves read into it? If you’ll indulge us, Dear Reader, when we walk into a room of these panels, we are struck by their incredible power to relax. Long ago, our ancestors really lived in nature and we are still sometimes drawn to it: we still like to eat outdoors occasionally, to watch a sunset. “Road” brings our Nature indoors. It’s a miniature wood carrier’s bundles exploded into a grid, sparsely stuffed into moired Lace in Space. The suspension of time triggers a meditative response. Thin “wood” fingers pick up light the way a velvet grassy hill does at dawn; it appears to glow from within. It reminds you to breathe.
It all looks very delicate but, as with Nature, it’s much more resilient than we might suspect. The “twigs” look fragile, ready to snap, but they are not: even the artist’s cat couldn’t chew one in half. The edges of the lacy grid can easily cut your fingers, just as a rose can defend itself with
Dangerous Curve is committed to supporting visionary established and emerging artists of all ages, by emphasizing one-person shows of risky, intelligent work that is not necessarily commercially viable nor currently popular. Dangerous Curve is a new venue for both experimental exhibits/installations and performance/live art, with performance residencies, and a performance art festival planned.
Steven Simon is also exhibiting simultaneously
“Much” through March 26, 2005 at L2Kontemporary.