New York

Nancy Goldring

A & M Artworks

Nancy Goldring’s title for her exhibition, “Recurrences,” is a direct explanation of a theme that fascinates this artist and that has determined a direction in her work for over seven years. In order to understand how things appear over time, Goldring has devised a unique art process combining drawing, projection, and photography. Through this process her current work explores the idea of place and the roles of remembering, forgetting, abstraction, and time in the recollection and description of an environment. The moment one leaves a place, subjective interpretation and imagination take over to shape and distill what has been seen, heard, and felt there.

In most of these recent pieces Goldring begins with a pencil-and-gouache drawing. Onto the drawing, usually done from memory and depicting places the artist has been, she projects transparencies she has taken of the site during the visit. These transparencies are often layered and manipulated in different ways so that they are not simply the record of the camera lens. This combination of drawing and projection is then photographed to create a new, composite image. The results are intriguing and seductive. Goldring’s drawings are deft and delicate, but they are never overwhelmed by the images projected onto them, for in the process of photography the projected image, which is simply light, becomes distant and dreamlike. A dialogue goes on between Goldring’s drawings from memory and imagination and her travel projections; sometimes the voices are distinct and separate, and yet there are passages of harmony and ambiguity which are magnetic and mysterious.

The dimension of time is difficult to translate, yet Goldring’s work does this effectively. Maya 2, completed in 1982, begins with a fine drawing suggesting a composite of different viewpoints. Onto this are projected four different slides describing the vantage points and times of day that could have informed the original drawing. The drawing is an invention, an act of recollection; the slide projections invent evidence about how the place came to be perceived and understood in the mind of the artist. The fact that many of the slide projections are altered challenges conventional assumptions about the objectivity of photography and the subjectivity of drawing, and about their relationship in this creative process.

In Folegandros II A Clear Day and No Memories, completed in 1983, Goldring has drawn an intimate streetscape in which some of the buildings are translucent, permitting the landscape beyond to emerge. She uses relief models of this drawing to generate a series of eight Cibachrome prints incorporating slide projections of the actual site and the surrounding landscape. The sequence of images always retains the Contours of the street and buildings while simultaneously implying their disappearance. Goldring’s puzzling narrative here is the consequence of a more sophisticated process than are the photographically transformed drawings, and it is more evocative than they are; it brings the viewer closer to the relationship between seeing and remembering, and to the psychological quality of place. The manipulation of photographic elements and three-dimensional form is more open-ended and promises more permutations.

Goldring’s drawings are exquisite, the composite images are almost too elegant, and the relief photographs are rich with potential. Any artist inventive with and inquisitive about process runs the risk of becoming too reliant on technique; a curiosity about how things will look may override what things will mean. Goldring’s processes bring such remarkable results that one hopes she will be able to resist this entrapment. Her layering of the remembered, the imagined, and the envisioned through time evokes important questions about visual literacy and the mind’s eye. The synapse between what is actually experienced, what is remembered, and what is forgotten is a place where abstraction and understanding can begin. Goldring’s work continues to focus on these questions, and, at the same time, is beginning to invent rich stories by framing inquiry.

Patricia C. Phillips