New York

Kazuko

Kazuko designates pattern-making as the impulse that unites humankind. Her point of view has shifted, however, from the first person, that of the individual pushing the impulse to its most refined expression (her complicated geometric string constructions from the period 1972 to 1979), to the third, an almost socio-anthropological tracing of the persistence of the urge to pattern among different cultures and in seemingly adverse circumstances. These improvised arrangements correlate rural and urban primitivism: Austrian folk ritual and Lower East Side nightlife. Their obvious disparateness actually emphasizes their one commonality, a fairly rigid ordering of objects (be they sticks or empty bottles of Thunderbird wine) to make territorial boundaries.

For Kazuko, memory itself answers to an esthetic of rhythmic placement; choosing where an event punctuates the void of time becomes a responsibility. As in Oriental painting, what has not been touched—negative space, negative time—imposes as forcefully as what has. Like an enlightened social scientist, Kazuko reminds us of her personal connection with this tradition in references to scrolls and origami. As a result, what can look sketchy at first may achieve poignancy in the end, not necessarily because the decision to intervene was made at the right time or place, but because the belief in a right time and place, the possibility of restraint coexisting with proper action, is evoked. These constructions have a pulse, not a beat you can dance to. They are strung rather than organized.

Braiding and plaids expand on Kazuko’s weaving metaphor. Her implicitly feminist argument for the origin of culture relies on the Arachne myth, but also reverts to an earlier, more cosmic myth involving the elements, though it attempts to accommodate references to contemporary prostitutes and bag ladies as well. The installation shows the strain of this difficult accommodation, but then the tenuousness leads the work from detached observation to wistful, not wishful, thinking. The point of view may be omniscient, but the tone is one of yearning, yearning aware of itself and avoiding blind imposition of will.

Jeanne Silverthorne