Critics’ Picks

Bridget Smith, Blueprint for a Sea (series), 2015, four cyanotype prints on aluminum, five opaline globe lights, dimensions variable.

Southend-on-Sea

Bridget Smith

Focal Point Gallery
The Forum, Elmer Square
April 25 - July 4

At the edge of the pale bay of Southend-on-Sea where this gallery is located is a blinking neon amusement park; on the other, an anodyne silhouette of smokestacks. The faint sensation of contained expanse seeps into Bridget Smith’s solo show, which is site-specific and curiously titled “If You Want to Talk About Light You Have to Talk About Waves.” Not ironically, there is no you here, and nobody is talking. What we face is a sequence of squares, in the form of cyanotype prints, photographs, and videos, depicting this small town’s places of pleasure, leisure, and listlessness, emptied of the human machines that drive them.

A vacant auditorium is rendered in four cyanotype prints, Blueprint for a Sea, 2015, that utilize light to mimic outlines of waves. At first, the four appear identical; then, a very slight shift in perspective is noticeable. The series thus seems to rise and fall in a rhythm of its own. Five opaline globe lights hang as celestial objects, so that the narrative of the interior washes up against the vastness of outer space. Places become psychological: in this situationist’s dystopia, architecture rid of function is of infinite discontent and infinite desire. Meanwhile, Mechanical Wave, 2015, a double-screen silent video, offers a repeating image of a coin pusher moving but not quite pushing coins forward—like light itself, traveling toward a future that is already the past. It is a pattern that does not break.