Critics’ Picks

Darkness Falls on Beroldingerstrasse 7, 79224 Umkirch, 2006.

New York

Jason Dodge

Casey Kaplan
121 West 27th Street
April 21–May 20, 2006

For all that modern amenities such as telephones and airplanes mitigate the difficulties of maintaining long-distance relationships, the miles that separate us from our loved ones can still feel bitterly vast. Leaning on little more than a few rich details and the viewer’s imagination, Jason Dodge’s latest work deals with this very topic and conjures a Chekhovian sense of drama and narrative besides. “Into Black” (all works 2006), a series of eight monochromatic grayscale photographs, turns out to be the results of “undeveloped photo paper that was exposed for the first time at sunrise on the vernal equinox” in such far-flung locations as Kenya and Greenland. Darkness Falls on Beroldingerstrasse 7, 79224 Umkirch is made up of lightbulbs, candles, and other lighting implements, all loosely arranged in a circle on the floor, which were removed from a house in the Black Forest. Apparently even the refrigerator lamp was taken, and, as with the photographs, the weird story imbues the piece with emotion and intrigue, stirring the imagination. But not every work depends upon background information to prompt a romantic reverie. Bird is a simple device requiring that the viewer rotate a key (one side of which is embellished with the words AUDUBON BIRD CALL) that spins a wheel whose spokes are made of the fingers from a woman’s leather glove. Another glove, this one intact, is placed so that the fingers flick it as the wheel turns. The resulting fluttering sound resembles that of a startled bird taking flight, and this sensation acts a connective thread between the works, triggering memories of sudden departures and fantasies of unlikely returns.